How To Format A Hard Drive (Windows 10, 8, 7, XP)?


In order to use a disk, you need to create a partition and format it with Windows supported file system like NTFS, Fat32, etc. File systems are used to put data into the disk in a structured manner. We can format a drive or partition easily by using the Disk Management tool.

Open Disk Management Tool

Even we can use different tools for format Disk Management tool provides useful features and GUI. We will open the disk management tool. We can open the disk management tool from the Start menu by typing the disk management tool where Create and format hard disk partitions from Control Panel will be listed below. We will just open it.

Open Disk Management Tool From Start Menu

Alternatively, we can open the disk management tool from Start Menu or Run menu with the following command.

dskmgmt.msc
Open Disk Management Tool From Run Menu

Format Newly Added Disk

If there is all ready uninitialized disk this disk will be shown to us automatically with the following dialog box. We will be asked to initialize the disk with a specific partition scheme or style Master Boot Record (MBR) or GUID Partition Table (GPT). MBR is an old-style scheme that can be used for the drives up to 2TB. Drives that are bigger than 2TB are not supported. GPT is a newer partitioning scheme where drives that are bigger than 2TB also supported without a problem. As the newly added disk does not format it is named as in Disk 1 this case.

Initialize Newly Added Disk

The new disk partition scheme set properly and shown in the disk management like below as Disk 1. But we can see that it is unallocated which means not formatted. Also, its size is 59.98GB.

Unformatted Disk

In order to start the format process, we will right-click to the unformatted disk named Disk 1 where we will see a menu. We will click to the New Simple Volume which means we will format this disk as a simple volume.

Start Disk Format with New Simple Volume

The New Simple Volume Wizard will start like below. This screen provides simple information about the format operation. We will click to the Next.

New Simple Volume Wizard

We will see the Specify Volume Size step like below. We will set the size of the partition. Information about the Maximum disk space and Minimum disk space in MB is provided too. Simple Volume size in MB is the size of the partition. If we want to create extra partitions later we should set a lower size then the maximum disk space to be used later.

Specify Volume Size

In this step, we will assign the drive letter or path which is named as Assign Drive Letter or Path. Assign the following drive letter selection will provide us available drive letters we can use for this partition. Unavailable drive letters will not be shown.

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Mount in the followin empty NTFS folder will mount this partition into a specific folder. But the destination folder should be an NTFS file system.

Do not assign a drive letter or drive path will skip assigning a drive letter or mount for later.

Assign Drive Letter or Path

The following step is the most important one where we will specify the format options. This screen is named as Format Partitions .

Do not format this volume will skip formatting this volume which is not intended for this case.

Format this volume with the following settings will format the drive with the provided settings. File System is the file system which will be used. The default is NTFS which is the best solution for most of the cases. Alternatively, ExFAT can be used for old systems. Allocation Unit Size specifies the size of the file system block. We will leave the default but alternatively, we can select other sizes where higher sizes are used for storing the big files. Volume Label is a label that was set as the name of the partition. The name also is shown on the Computer screen as the name of the partition. Perform Quick format will make the format a lot faster which is selected by default. It not selected the format operation may take some time. Enable File and folder compression will enable compression for files and folders on the given file system which will save some space.

Format Partition Settings

In the following screen, we will see the format configuration setting. By clicking Finish button the format process will start.

Format Configuration

The format process will be completed fast because we have selected the Quick Format setting. We will see that Disk 1 is formatted properly and given the drive letter E:.

Newly Formatted Disk

Format Already Existing and Formatted Drive

If we need to format already formatted or used disk we can use the Disk Management tool again. We have already talked about how to open the Disk Management tool. In this example the Disk 1 which is named as New Volume is already formatted and used as drive E. We will format this disk again.

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We will right-click to the disk we want to reformat. We will see a menu where we will click to the Format like below.

Reformat A Disk or Partition with Disk Manager

We will see the following format screen. We will provide the format settings. The volume label will set the name of the volume or partition which is set MyVolume in this example. The file system is the file system type which is NTFS in most of the cases. Allocation unit size is the size of the file system blocks where leaving Default is generally the best choice. Perform a quick format will make format operation faster which is enabled by default. Enable File and folder compression will compress files and folders stored in this partition is selected.

Format Configuration

As we are reformatting an already formatted drive following cautions will be provided and accept. If this drive contains data, files, and folders we should backup them properly because all of them will be lost after the format operation.

Format Disk Accept

When the format operation is complete we will see the following screen where the formatted drive will be listed with a new name, partition.

Format Completed

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