Just in case you are not aware, formatting a hard drive means wiping the data clean so that space is created for new data and file systems. You can format an external or internal hard drive, whether it is an HDD (Hard Disk Drive) or SSD (Solid State Drive).
Once you format a disk drive, the data that used to be there will be inaccessible. That is not to say that it will necessarily be completely erased, depending on how the disk drive is formatted, but the data will no longer be directly accessible and any space that it previously took up on the drive may be overwritten with new data.
Why format a hard drive?
- Erase Data: You may need to wipe the data clean on the drive so that it is no longer accessible or you want to free up space. This can be done in a way to simply free up space, or it can be done in a way to permanently erase all data that will never be able to be recovered.
- Partitioning: Partitioning is another word for dividing. When partitioning a hard drive you actually split the drive into segmented parts. Most disk drives come standard as a single partition, like your C: drive. You can, however, split a hard drive into more than one part.
- System Formatting: Depending on your operating system and computer configuration, you may need to choose a file format that best optimizes performance.
How to partition and format a hard drive on Windows 10
To make a partition and format a hard disk, you need to be logged in as an administrator. Windows 10 has several methods of formatting a hard drive, but using the Disk Management tool is perhaps one of the best options for most users. This is the way we will cover it below.
Disclaimer: Formatting your hard drive will erase all data on the drive, it is recommended that you backup your data before proceeding.
- Open the Start Menu and search for "Disk Management", which will return a Control Panel option titled Create and format hard disk partitions. Click it to launch the Disk Management tool.
- From the Disk Management tool, you will be able to see a list of all the internal and external hard drives attached to your system. Find the hard drive that you would like to partition, it will most likely say "unallocated space." Right-click on the drive and click on New Simple Volume. The New Simple Volume Wizard will open, and it will walk you through getting a partition, or volume, created on your drive.
- Next, choose a Volume Size for your hard drive, it will be set to the maximum capacity of the drive by default.
- Then, assign a Volume Label for the new partition (for example C: or D:). This label is the name of the drive that will appear in Windows File Explorer.
- Now that you have a new labeled volume on your hard drive, it is time to format it. Right-click on the new volume, and select Format. Make sure that it is the correct drive!
- Next, select the File System to use. You will want to choose NTFS, which is the most modern file system that is currently used by hard disks.
- Finally, after confirming all of the above settings, click Format. It will take some time to format the drive. Once it is complete, you are all set! You should have a newly partitioned and formatted hard drive that is ready to use. It should appear in your Windows File Explorer as other drives that are connected to your PC.