I've bricked my PC.

Short version: I need to format my HDD to NTFS with no current OS.

Long version: I was happily running Windows 10, but wanted to do a re-installation to speed things up.

The installation hung at 1% for an hour or so, so I rebooted - no operating system. I downloaded a win10 iso and booted from there. All good, but windows is not verified. Windows won't accept the win8 Pro key which I was originally using, so; I installed Ubuntu (I only use this as an HTPC for Kodi.

I decided I didn't like Ubuntu, so downloaded a win 8 pro iso. When trying to install, I get the error message that the disc is not a recognised format. The format drive icon is grayed out.

How do I get my system back up and running? I guess I need to format the drive. Also, I cannot create a CD ROM, so needs to be able to boot from USB.


Windows Forum Admin
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Hi Kevin,

when you installed Windows 10 for the first time did you upgrade from either Windows 7 SP1 or 8.1?

To qualify for the free copy of win 10 one must upgrade from a genuine and activated copy of Windows 7 SP1 or 8.1.

If you went through the above process correctly then you can perform a clean install and Windows 10 should activate automatically.

When reaching the activation prompt simply click 'I don't have one' and carry on the install process. Windows will automatically activate once your online.

If it doesn't activate automatically then you can try using your former activation key. If this still fails to work and your sure your original Windows was genuine and activated then give Microsoft a call.

This page will allow you to download a iso of win 10 which you can load up to a zip drive:
Windows 10

You will need to enter the bios to change your boot order so that your machine will boot from the zip drive first, save settings and reboot.

Watch for the prompt 'Press any key' to allow the installation to start. You should see it after the bios/post beep.
How to Boot From a USB Flash Drive

As these are quite basic instructions if you should need further advice then please post back.

I'm happy to go down the rout of re-installing Win8.1 (genuine) then do the upgrade, but the disc needs to be formatted first.

Is there a live CD that can format to NTFS?


Windows Forum Team
Staff member
Premium Supporter
so downloaded a win 8 pro iso. When trying to install, I get the error message that the disc is not a recognised format
You may have a mbr partistion on that hdd and yes that would kill the basic Microsoft install... if you have a working usb port than I'd use Rufus (Rufus - Create bootable USB drives the easy way) to create the bootable install from the Microsoft iso you downloaded.

Important; Windows 8 and 8.1 are NOT the same thing... you need to match the key that came with the computer originally to reinstall 8 from fresh (oem | msdn licence) and you may have first upgraded a W8 computer to W8.1 then upgraded again to 10?


Windows Forum Admin
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Damn I forgot to post this again and there the reply sat until this morning doh!

but the disc needs to be formatted first.
If you boot from the disk or USB you have Windows 8.1 on then as part of the install process you get asked where you want to install Windows. It's at this point you can then wipe the drive removing all partitions.


Fantastic Member
Premium Supporter
Hi there,
Looks like you have a couple of issues. The first is we need to know which windows version your comptuer came with, either Win8 or win8.1. There's a major difference in the upgrade to W10 path as well as licensing issues. Since you don't have a factory Recovery Disc and even if you did you have no CD drive to run it from, and you reinstall from 8/8.1 Pro ISO file bootable disc, if there was a factory Recovery Partition on the hard drive that came with your computer, you could just boot to the rescue partition using Win8/8.1 bootable usb media and essential do a Windows8/8.1 reset to OOB (Out-Of-box condition). Not sure exactly how much damage you did, but if you didn't do a dual-boot with the Ubuntu, the Ubuntu install program would have wiped out the built-in factory Recovery partition off the hard drive at this point. :waah:

Can you tell us what Make/model your computer is? Is it a desktop PC or a laptop? Is it an OEM computer (Dell, Acer, HP, Gateway, Toshiba, etc.)? Or is it a self-built PC? If so, we could use hardware specs on the Motherboard, GPU card, PSU, etc.

Reason we're asking this, is you can purchase a replacement factory Recovery USB stick from the manufacturer if available; they run from $49.99 to $99.99 US. Most manufacturers have this option available, however if your computer is Win8; it could be 5 years old and not all models will have the USB stick recovery option; you might only be able to get it in DVD/CD format, which means you'll have to also purchase a USB external DVD writer for about $45 US to use it to reset your computer back to factory condition. Of course this wil only work if you have an OEM computer and not a self-built rig. If you didn't mage an Image backup file of your Win8/8.1 hard drive prior to the Ubuntu install, I'm afraid you're looking at an extensive manual rebuild of 8/8.1 using a Microsoft retail boxed windows 8/8.1 disc and download of all drivers and reintegration; usually 2-3 weeks.

Let us know what you have and we can advise you further for your specific type of computer.

Also, there are utilities to reformat your drive to NTFS via LiveCD as you asked; I recommend Ubuntu and UBCD.com which contains the ISO Linux program GpartEd Control. Both will accomplish your goal, but you have bigger problems than that at this point.



Windows Forum Admin
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Microsoft MVP
Any news Kevin?

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