How Do I Format My
Why Format Your Hard Drive?
There are many reasons why people format their hard drives.
If you intend to update to a new operating system you may
want to use that opportunity to completely clean out your
hard drive, freeing up space and ensuring that there will be
no conflicts caused by certain files and fragments of files
being left on your drive. Alternatively, it may just be time
to free up space or you may have bought a second hand
computer. All are valid reasons but do remember that
formatting a hard drive is a very final procedure and you
will lose everything that is stored on that hard drive.
Ensure that you have made a backup of all the files you wish
to keep and that you have all disks you might require for
reinstallation of programs and other files.
Formatting A Secondary Hard Drive
The easiest method to format a hard drive is to install it
as a secondary drive on another computer but this isn’t
always an option. For information on how to format your
primary hard drive and reinstall or update your Windows
version see further down the page.
Right click the “My Computer” icon and click the “Manage”
option. Choose “Storage” from the left hand side of the
resulting window and then select “Disk Management” from the
right hand side of the explorer window.
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A list of all hard drives connected to that computer should
be visible at the bottom of the window. Each drive should
also display the partitions that are currently found on the
hard drive. Unless you know of any specific reason that you
should need more than one partition then there is no reason
to have two or more. The first step you need to take is to
remove the partitions from the hard drive that you intend to
format. Right click on the partition and select “Delete
partition”. You should be presented with several warnings
regarding backing up data; you can select yes for all of
these warnings because you should have already backed up
your important data.
Once you have removed all partitions, you should see a bar
that says “unallocated” within it. Right click this bar and
choose “New partition”. The new partition wizard will
display enabling you to set up a new partition. Choose
“Primary partition” when prompted and click “Next”. The size
of the partition should be set to the maximum but if it
isn’t then alter it so that it is. And then click “Next”
again. The next page enables you to select a letter for your
newly partitioned drive. Select the appropriate one and
The final page of the wizard enables you to select the
format type, and whether you would like to perform a quick
format. The NTFS format is quicker and should be chosen
unless you are sharing files using Windows 95, 98, or ME
over a network. If your hard drive is new then check the
“Quick Format” box and click “Finish”. If the drive is not
new then leave this unchecked. Formatting will take some
time, especially if it is not a new drive.
Format Your Hard Drive Using Windows XP Disk
Insert your Windows XP setup disk and restart your computer.
Use the bootup sequence key and subsequent menu to ensure
that your computer first attempts to boot up from the disk
drive. You should then be shown a screen prompting you to
click any key to continue booting from disk. Click any key.
After a short wait while all the required files are
downloaded to your computer you will be asked to press
Enter. The next screen enables you to delete partitions.
Select the partition you wish to delete, click the D button
and then the L button. You should return to the screen
enabling you to decide where to install Windows. Select the
option that begins “Unpartitioned space…” press C. Check
that the size of the partition is equal to the maximum and
then proceed to the next screen.
Once again you will return to the Windows installation
select screen. The “Unpartitioned space…” will have changed
to read “C: Partition1…” Select this and click “Next”.
Choose between FAT32 and NTFS format and click Enter or
Return. This will then format your drive and install or
reinstall Windows on your hard drive. This will take a fair
amount of time.
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