How To Erase And Format A Hard Drive

Whether you’re selling your computer, trying a new operating system, get rid of a virus or malware or simply because you’re giving the drive to someone else or throwing it away sometimes you need to completely erase and format a hard drive.

Make sure you have successfully backed up any photos, videos, music and other documents from your drive before you format it.

Format your main hard drive

  • If your computer has a system recovery disk, place the system recovery disk and it will help you to easily format and reinstall the Operating System.
  • If not use the DOS command prompt to format or erase the hard drive. Do this by opening the command link prompt. Type ‘format c: /u’ or ‘format c: /q’. The ‘c:’ here is the drive you want to erase. Meanwhile, the ‘/u’ means unconditional format and the ‘/q’ means quick format. The unconditional format is considered more secured than the quick format.
  • After you’re done formatting insert the installation CD of the operating system. You will be guided with the on-screen instructions on installing the Operating System.
  • Formatting the hard drive may not totally erase its contents. Most computers store copies of files in a hard drive making them able to recover eve after deletion. If you want to totally erase the hard drive, you need to use third party programs to wipe the disks. Some free disk wipes you can use are the Disk Redactor, Free Disk Wipe, QuickWiper, and R-Wipe & Clean.

Format a RAID Drive

If incase you have two or more disks configured as a RAID, there are various ways to format these drives. Before you use any of them, make sure you back up any files you want to keep.

  • Use a software utility which came with your RAID controller or motherboard.
  • Go into the RAID controller’s BIOS and look for an option to format the drive(s) or reconfigure the RAID as individual disks.
  • Unplug the drive you want to format and connect it to a different SATA port on your motherboard which isn’t part of the RAID controller. Then, follow the Windows Disk Management method below since the disk won’t be visible in Windows Explorer.

Format an External Drive or Flash Drive

Windows Vista, 7 and 8 have a built-in Disk Management tool and its own tool to format and quick format partitions and drives.

To format an external drive in Windows:

  1. Plug your drive into the computer and, if necessary, into a wall outlet.
  2. Open Windows Explorer, click the “Computer” section in the sidebar, and find your drive. Right-click on the drive and choose “Format.”
  3. Give your drive a name under “Volume Label”.
  1. Click “Start” to format the drive. It’ll only take a few seconds

After you’re done, you can start using it for copying files on the drive.

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