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I want to format because my laptop has stopped connecting to my wireless connection and hopefully this will fix it.

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I would suggest that this is perhaps not the right way to approach the problem if getting you wireless working is the only benefit from reinstalling. If it is, I suggest starting another question with details of your wireless hardware (the output of lspci is often helpful) and fix it rather than ignoring it. –  Oli Mar 22 '11 at 11:09

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Take a look at this: How to clean a hard drive before reinstall

Placed here for your convenience:

If you refer to a fresh reinstall, when reinstalling you will find several options for the usage of your hard disk drive, which includes but not limits to:

"Side by Side" install, which will install your new OS sharing the hard disk drive but without losing your current installation. This way, GRUB will be updated or installed as required.

"Use the entire disk" which will physically erase the whole disk in order to use all its space for the new OS install.

If what you wish is to use the hard disk drive for a data tasks such as BackUp or other data handling, you can achieve that by first erasing the whole partition and do it from scratch. Formatting the disk will also do the trick.

Several tools will help you to achieve this task in Linux and other OS's.

In Maverick, under "system/administration" you will find a "Disk Utility", inside of which you will find a disk drive and other devices tree on the left and its characteristics and tool list in the right side, where you can find both "Delete Partition" and "Format Drive" options.

You can do this from a Live Session.

A screenshot is placed here for your convenience.

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Addittionally, take in consideration that some wireless devices has stopped working as a part of an update from Maverick. That's my case with a Compaq Presario V3000 (V3617LA) which wireless isn't working anymore even with all my efforts and all the web/forums tricks.

Good Luck!

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Will formatting it make it start off as if it were the first time I had turned it on? –  user12744 Mar 22 '11 at 2:55
    
Kevin: even if you format the drive, there are ways to bring back the data. Check this: askubuntu.com/questions/25311/… I mean: the information will remain there up to the time that the physical clusters are used by new data. See this: ultimateeditionisrael.freeforums.org/… Even so, yes, you will have a better performance if you completely remove both the partition and format the drive. But this task can be achieved at the very moment of the OS install and will have the same performance. –  Geppettvs D'Constanzo Mar 22 '11 at 3:09

Completely reformatting your disk is relatively easy in Ubuntu. You simply need to used the disk manager tool that comes installed with Ubuntu desktop. This website has a quick easy tutorial if you are unsure how to do it. Completely Fromat a Disk in Ubuntu

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Note that the author appears to be a member of the above site/self promotion. Also, whilst this may theoretically answer the question, it would be preferable to include the essential parts of the answer here, and provide the link for reference. –  Marco Ceppi Apr 9 '12 at 13:29

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