Just let me reformat the hard drive
January 31, 2010 4:04 PM   Subscribe

Emachines won't let me buy the recovery disks for our emachine desktop, claiming that our serial number is unrecognizable. What are my options for reformatting the damn thing?

My son has not practiced good internet hygiene, and has over time managed to pick up some really bad trojans, which we have been unable to purge. Presently, any browser we try will shut down randomly. All relevant backups have been made, so we just want to nuke it into outerspace and reformat the hard drive. Problem is, when we try to reformat, it asks for reformatting disks, which we don't have (for the record, it didn't come with any disks, we bought it stupid cheap at Walmart in 2007). Funny thing is, when we contacted emachines in an attempt to actually GIVE THEM MONEY for their recovery disks, they told us we couldn't because the serial number on our legally acquired computer doesn't match anything in their databases. I don't have the physical receipt from 2007 (they said a credit card statement doesn't count), so I am S.O.L. on that front. What options are left to me for reformatting?
(We have already run every relevant malware and virus identification software possible, we just want to reformat).
Thanks in advance
posted by msali to Technology (7 answers total)
You'll probably get a bunch of people telling you to install Ubuntu Linux. You might as well try it if you don't want to pay for a new Windows license.

Other then that, do you know anyone with a windows CD you can borrow? They'll usual let you activate 2 or 3 machines with one key since people do upgrade every once in a while.
posted by delmoi at 4:09 PM on January 31, 2010

Best answer: I ended up with Ubuntu in similar circumstances and could not be happier. You still need a Windows or Mac box around for some specialized things (Turbo-Tax say) but for 99% of things I am preferring Ubuntu.
posted by caddis at 5:13 PM on January 31, 2010

Assuming it's still bootable, you can use a program like this keyfinder to get your Windows key off the machine. Then you just need to borrow or acquire a suitable Windows install CD and you should be all set (boot to the CD and choose to re-format the drive as part of installation).
posted by macfly at 6:54 PM on January 31, 2010

Buy a windows XP SP2 or later disc from ebay. Hook up your computer...sell it back on ebay for around the same price you bought it for.
posted by hal_c_on at 8:21 PM on January 31, 2010

What is the exact model if the computer you have?
posted by bottlebrushtree at 8:31 PM on January 31, 2010

We had this same problem with our emachines. The box from Beast buys did NOT contain any discs at all, and emachines wouldn't send any to us.

Now that emachines is owned by Gateway, you'd be better off getting a different machine... the power supply should die any time now, taking the entire motherboard with it!
posted by Jinx of the 2nd Law at 9:32 PM on January 31, 2010

Response by poster: Follow-up:
Thank you again everybody for your answers. We ended up installing Ubuntu, and since our son uses his computer mostly for social networking and gaming, he doesn't need Windows or the Office Suite like his parents do. His computer now runs like a dream.
In an interesting sidenote, installing Linux onto his machine gave us an opportunity to give him a brief history of Linux, as well as the open source movement, which left the boy duly impressed.
posted by msali at 7:04 AM on February 2, 2010

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