How to Format Hard Drive in Windows 10?

How to Format Hard Drive in Windows 10

Wondershare Recoverit Authors

Oct 13, 2020 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions



One essential task needed to be performed with any new drive is formatting it before using the drive to store files and execute operations. This is an important step to take to ensure data integrity and to prevent errors or crashes within the system. Formatting can also be done on existing drives.

Overview of Format Hard Drive

A hard drive, especially when new, needs to undergo formatting before files are dumped on it. It's an important task to make sure that the drive is functional and completely clean, without any malicious code or malware that can harm personal files and consequently put installation and operation under damage.

What happens when you format the drive in Windows 10? All data stored in the drive is wiped out, and the file system is formatted in such a way that Windows can understand, so it can read and write the data on the drive. Some compatible systems include the FAT32, NTFS, and xFAT.

Formatting isn't just done for new drives, though; an existing drive can also be subject to a format, especially when it was previously used with a different operating system. Formatting an existing drive can solve compatibility issues. Take note, however, that formatting an old drive will delete all data stored within it. Make sure that you have a backup of your important files so that nothing is lost.

Format Hard Drive in Windows 10 with Windows Disk Management

A hard drive with partition configured already can just undergo the formatting of the existing partition to erase the data and make it a 'clean' drive.

Here are the steps to format the partition with Disk Management:

  • On the Start menu, type Disk Management on the search bar and click on the top result to run the program.
  • On the Disk Management window, select the new hard drive and right-click on it. Select Format.

  • Type in a descriptive name for the hard drive in the field Value label.
  • In the File System dropdown menu, select NFTS, the recommended file type for Windows 10.

  • Select Default in the dropdown menu for the Allocation unit size.
  • Tick the Perform a quick format (Note: quick format does not check for damages in the drive. To make sure that there are no bad sectors, clear the option and perform a full format.)
  • Clear Enable file and folder compression if necessary, and select OK.
  • A warning prompt will appear, click OK to proceed.
  • Wait for the format to complete.

Here are the steps to using Disk Management to create and format a new partition:

  • Run Disk Management and find on the list the drive labeled "Unknown" or "Not Initialized". Right-click the drive and select Initialize Disk.
  • Check the disk to be initialized.
  • Select the right partition style: for hard drives <2TB in size, choose Master Boot Record (MBR); for drives with size >2TB, choose GUID Partition Table (GPT). Select OK.
  • Right-click on the Unallocated space, and choose New Simple Volume, and then press Next.

  • If you want to use the full size of the drive to save files, leave the Simple volume size in MB in its default value as indicated. Otherwise, specify the size you want the partition to have. Select Next.

  • To select a drive letter, choose one from the dropdown menu after you tick the Assign the following drive letter: selection and click Next.

  • Select NFTS from the File system dropdown menu.
  • Select Default on the Allocation unit size
  • Type a descriptive name in the space for Valuable label.
  • Tick Perform a quick format. Otherwise, untick to perform a full format (which takes considerably longer depending on drive size).
  • Clear the Enable file and folder compression if necessary and click Next.

  • Select Finish

How to Format Hard Drive using PowerShell commands

Formatting a hard drive can also be done using PowerShell for Windows 10. Here are the steps to do so:

  • Open Start menu or press Win + X and select the PowerShell (Admin) to run the program as administrator.

  • On the command line, type Get-Disk and hit Enter
  • To clean the hard drive, type in the command Get-Disk <disk number>│ Clear-Disk -RemoveData and press Enter. (Note: Replace <disk number> with the number of the hard drive to be formatted, as listed in the results for the first command)
  • Type in to authorize and proceed with the format of the specified drive. Press Enter.
  • To initialize disk partition with GUID Partition Table or GPT scheme, type this command: "Initialize-Disk -Number<disk number>" (Note: replace <disk number> with the corresponding disk number for the specific drive). Press Enter.
  • To make a new partition with NFTS, type on the next command line: New-Partition -Disk Number <disk number> -UseMaximumSize │Format-Volume -FileSystem NFTS -NewFIleSystemLabel drive. Change <disk number> to the specific drive's disk number, and change the drive label to the title you prefer.
  • To allot a specific drive letter, type command Get-Parition -DiskNumber <disk number> │Set-Partition -NewDriveLetter <new drive letter>. Press Enter.

(Note: if you see the "Set-Partition: requested access path already in use", change to another drive letter.)

  • Check-in File Explorer for the newly created hard drive.

Keeping a drive clean and free of malware and misbehaving codes is easy once proper formatting is observed. The following steps to format a hard drive may also be applied to USB flash drives, SATA drives, SSDs, and other internal or external storage devices. Just make sure that you back up important data before proceeding with a format, or you may lose all of them by data wipe.

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