If you have recovery disks and want to just return it to the factory software installation, you get the instructions from the user manual (generally available on the laptop maker's website) and follow those. If you want to start fresh and install your own copy of XP, you won't reformat but you will remove partition information and let your copy of XP re-partition and format the drive during the installation process. As well, this method will require that you collect drivers for the laptops hardware. This is usually available on their web site as well but some could be elsewhere.
I have inherited an HP compaq laptop with some major problems that have to be eliminated. I have been advised to reformat (completely erase)my hard drive and start over. How does one do that?
Windows XP Professional SP2.