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Is it worth reformatting my hard drive?

I defragged my hard drive last Sunday, and wound up with 10 to 15 areas of unmovable clusters -- each containing 12 to 15 lines. When I defragged again on Tuesday, I had 10 clusters of 10 to 15 lines each and one big group of 40 lines at the botton of the screen. I want to scrap everything and start all over again, but I am confused by the large number of ways I have been told I can accomplish this.

I have a Pentium processor with 32 MB of ram running Windows 98 second addition 4.10.2222A. I have been told I can rebuild my computer by placing the Windows CD in the drive and rebooting, but this seems almost too simple. I really only use my PC to play online chess and look at accuweather. I realize that 32 mb isn't much, but it is all I need. I'm old and a beginner at PCs and I won't pay the $80 an hour the guy down the street wants to fix it.

How can I start over again? I have copied all the e-mail addresses and Web sites I use and would like to reformat the hard drive -- can it be done?

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It certainly can be done, but it is a tricky process and I would recommend it only as a last resort for a self-professed beginner like yourself.

You seem to have a problem with unmovable clusters. If this is really bothering you, my advice would be to purchase a third-party tool to do a full defragmentation of your hard drive rather than a complete rebuild.

Look on the web and you will find some tools by Symantec and McAfee, for example. I suggest you consider purchasing one, although the product will run you about $50. While costly, this option is far easier than reformatting your hard disk and installing everything from scratch and will help make the most of your limited system resources. In the long run, this investment will also prove much cheaper than having your "friend" from down the street constantly trying to solve your defrag issues for you.

This was first published in July 2002

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