How Do I Prepare My Dell computer for a clean installation of Microsoft®  Windows XP?

Back Up Your Data Before Installing the New Operating System.

It is recommended that you back up all user data prior to proceeding with the operating system installation to avoid any possible loss of data.

Note: The most common locations for user data include: e-mail folders, address books in Outlook® , My Documents folder, Desktop, Favorites, Web browser bookmarks, and any other data that you find useful.

For more information about backing up data, please refer to the following Microsoft Knowledge Base articles:


Remove All External Devices.

See the list below for examples of devices that need to be removed:

  • Scanner
  • Printer
  • Palm Pilot
  • Other External Devices
The following is a list of devices that should not be removed:
  • Monitor
  • Keyboard
  • Mouse

Prepare the hard drive for an operating system reinstallation using the Clean 1K utility.

The inclusion of the Dell Clean 1K Utility on the Dell Dimension Resource CD began on March 23, 1999. The Dell Clean 1K utility overwrites the beginning (the first 1,000 clusters) of the hard drive. The computer uses this space on the hard drive to index the locations of all of the files on the hard drive. When the index is overwritten, the information on the rest of the hard drive is rendered useless.

The Dell Clean 1K Utility eliminates corrupted partitions that cannot be removed with the DOS FDISK command.

The following are reasons that you might need to use the Dell Clean 1K utility:

  • You suspect that you have a virus on your system that your anti-virus program cannot detect or clean.
  • A thorough Scandisk is finding and marking bad sectors, but hard drive diagnostics passes the hard drive.
  • You have installed an operating system on your computer such as Linux, and you do not know how to uninstall it.
  • You want to make sure that your hard drive is completely blank before reinstalling a Microsoft®  Windows®  operating system.
  • If the Dell Clean 1K Utility is not available, refer to Dell Knowledge Base article, "How do I use the MS-DOS®  debug script to remove my DOS or non-DOS partition?"

To prepare the Dell™ Dimension™ hard drive for a full format and operating system reinstall using the Clean 1K utility, perform the following steps:

1. Boot to the Dimension ResourceCD.
    The Windows 98 startup menu appears.

Note: For more information on how to boot your Dell™ Dimension™ desktop to the CD, refer to Dell Knowledge Base article,           

2. Press the <2> key to select BOOT from CD ROM .
    The Choice/Action menu appears.
3. Press the <4> key to select Dos Prompt .

Notice: The following step will completely erase all data on the hard drive using the Clean 1k utility.
4. Press the <4> key to select Dos Prompt .

5. Type clean1k.exe and press the key.
    The clean1k information screen appears.

6. Press the Y key.

7. Press the Y key again.

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