How to format a hard drive on Windows

Clean up your old hard drives.
Ash Ash (362)
10 minutes

There are plenty of reasons to format a hard drive—we're not here to ask questions. We know what it's like to clean up an old PC or prepare an SD card for a new Raspberry Pi project.

Today we’re looking at the two best ways to format a hard drive on Windows. This process works for hard drives, external drives, and even flash drives. First things first, make sure the drive you want to format is connected to your computer!

Note: This will wipe all of the data on the drive you format. Be sure to back up anything critical before formatting the drive! (These steps will not work to format your Mac.)

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format hard drive disk management

Open the Start Menu, and enter the word format. Select Create and format hard disk partitions.

Alternatively, you can open the Disk Management tool by right-clicking a hard drive under This PC and selecting Format.

The Disk Management tool will load a list of hard drives connected to your machine. You can format external hard drives, flash drives, and internal drives from this list. Right-click the hard drive you want to format and select Format. Enter a name for the hard drive in the Volume Label field. Set the File system and Allocation unit size from the drop-down menu.

Format hard drive Command Prompt

Open the Start Menu, and type cmd. Right-click Command Prompt and choose Run as Administrator.

When Command Prompt opens, type diskpart then press enter.

Type list disk then press enter. This will show everything from hard drives to USB drives. Note the number assigned to the hard drive you want to format.

Type select disk # to select a specific drive. Replace the # sign with the actual disk number. For example, you would use select disk 2 to select the second disk. Press enter.

Type clean and press enter. Next, enter create partition primary and press enter.

You need to define a file system format. For example, you can implement a NTFS file system with this command: format fs=ntfs

After you've successfully formatted the drive, you need to assign it a letter. Type the word assign and press enter. Congratulations! Your drive is formatted and ready to go.

Clean your old hard drive using a Mac.
Ash Ash (362)
10 minutes

Whether your troubleshooting an old hard drive—or preparing or backing up an SD card for a Raspberry Pi—you'll probably need to format that. We've got you covered!