How to Format a Hard Drive

Formatted Hard Drives

Formatting a hard drive can help you with storage and memory issues, eliminate viruses from your hard drive or solve other problems plaguing your computer. Knowing how to format a hard drive allows you to extend the life of your pc without spending a lot of money for the Geek Squad to come out to your house, while newly formatted hard drives often work better than a system drive that’s been littered and cluttered with viruses, unneeded programs and file storage.

With that in mind, here is a quick guide on how to format a hard drive.

1. Back Up Your Computer Files – Once you format a computer hard drive, all the storage you had on your harddrive previously will be lost. So, before you starting reformat, make certain you back up all your essential files. You can do this by transferring the files to another computer or laptop, using some program like Google Documents, saving files to a CD-rom disc or saving files to a USB flash drive that you can buy on for between $10 and $30, or at Target or Wal-Mart for a little bit more (on average).

2. Save Everything Else – Once again, consider the files or any other user of your pc or laptop and save those before formatting your hard drive. You might also save your favorites or the favorite links of other users of your computer. Once you save all necessary document files, desktop items, favorite and bookmarks, you are ready to begin to format your hard drive.

3. Right-Click on My Computer – You can find this either on your desk top or on the Start Menu on your computer. Once you have brought up “My Computer”, find and click on “Manage”. This should bring up a window called “Computer Management”.

4. Select Storage – Once computer management comes up, you should be able to find “Storage” on the left hand side of the window. Click once on storage, bringing up the “Disk Management” box. (Select “local” if it requires an additional choice.) Double-click on Disk Management.

5. Right-Click on the Partition Box – You should now be seeing a list of the hard drives on your computer. Each line represents a different drive. Each drive should have one partition, which will soon become important. One the drive you wish to format, delete any existing partitions that exist on that drive. To do this, right-click on “Delete Partition”. Only once you have saved everything on this drive will you click “Yes”, which is what follows when you click “Delete Partition”. This is the point of no return, so be certain before you click yes to this question.

Continue with other partitions, if your desire is to format those drives or partitions, too. If you only want to delete the one partition, this is acceptable, too, and you can continue without further deletions.

6. Right-Click on New Partition – The drive box should now show a black bar and should say “Unallocated”. If this is the case, it’s time to add a new partition. Click on “New Partition”, which should activate the “New Partition Wizard”.

7. Click Next on the New Partition Wizard – Click the Primary Partition and then click “Next” when prompted. Your drive setup wizard will automatically select the next letter to name this newly formatted drive. If for some reason, you would prefer to select another letter as a name for your formatted drive, select a letter from the dropdown menu.

8. Choose NTFS – Unless you have a specific reason not to, select NTFS when the computer asks you to format the new partition.

9. Default Allocation Unit Size – Select “Default” when asked what allocation unit size you want to select.

10. Select a Simple Name For the Drive – When the “Volume Label” field shows, you’ll need to enter the name you want the drive to have. Unlike the “Drive A”, “Drive B”, these are usually full word names. Select something simple and easy to remember, and avoid using spaces.

11. “Perform a Quick Format” for Brand New Hard Drives – If this hard drive has never been used before, select “Perform a Quick Format” when prompted.

12. “Enable File and Folder Compression” for Used Hard Drives – If you have used this hard drive for storage before, then leave it unchecked and click “Next” when the “Enable File & Folder Compression” prompt box comes up.

13. Be Patient – Once this is done, it will take a while for the hard drive to format. Be patient and let the drive do its work, and do not close the window that says “Computer Management” until formatting is finished. Once finished, your computer display will move from “Formatting” to “Healthy”. Your newly formatted drive is now ready to use.

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