The process of formatting a hard drive varies between operating systems. Formatting is usually necessary when a computer is infected with a Trojan or other type of virus that is difficult to remove. Remember, formatting means erasing all data, so you will want to backup anything on your computer before formatting. This way it can be reinstalled once the reformatting is complete.
A few general tips to follow:
- Create partition(s) on a drive before formatting it
- You can format more securely with programs that cover the deleted information with zeroes or garbage characters. This makes it unrecoverable so it will not be problematic once the formatting is complete.
- Formatting takes awhile to complete, so do not expect to use your computer for awhile, as you would when installing a simple software program.
How to Format a Hard Drive with the Windows Installation Disk
To begin, backup your data from the hard drive petitions you plan to format. This includes your “Documents and Settings,” your music and picture files, your Internet browser bookmarks, and any other data. This does not include software programs, which will need to be reinstalled after the formatting.
Next, restart your computer and enter the BIOS setup by pressing the delete key. Once you reach the setup menu, ensure the boot configuration is set to CD/DVD drive so it will boot first.
Insert the Windows installation disk in the drive and exit the setup after saving the changes.
Your computer will restart and you will be prompted to press any key to boot from the disk. You must boot from the disk or the system partition will not be formatted from the operating system.
The Windows installation screen will prompt you through several steps prior to starting the official formatting process.
You will need to reformat existing partitions, delete existing partitions, or create new partitions in unpartitioned space. You will choose the required amount of space with a number for the formatted are in megabytes. Finally, choose NTFS or FAT32 for formatting. The NTFS drives are considered faster and more secure than FAT32.
How to Format a Hard Drive with Computer Management
This is the method for formatting a non-system drive on the hard disk. It is a more advanced method and will not help you with the typical C: drive that is on most computers.
Right click the “My Computer” icon and select “Manage” from the options. This will prompt the “Computer Management” window. Selection “Storage” from the options on the left side and choose “Disk Management” from the options that appear in the window.
All of the available partitions will appear. Delete the desired partition from the hard drive. If you want to remove all of the partitions, delete them one at a time. Right click the partition’s box and select “Delete Partition” from the options. You will be prompted to confirm, so select “Yes.”
You will then be prompted with the “Unallocated” box. Right click the box and select “New Partition.” This prompts the New Partition Wizard, so follow the steps and choose “Primary Partition.” Next, choose the size and drive letter. Finally, you will be asked if the new partition should be formatted. Choose FAT32 or NTFS. The Allocation Unit Size can be left at the default setting. Enter the drive letter in the Volume Label field. If there are no problems, you can choose “Perform a Quick Format.” Leave this unchecked if there is a problem and also leave the “Enable File and Folder Compression” boxes unchecked. Click “Next” to format the drive. Leave the window open while the drive formats. When formatting is complete, the status will change from “formatting” to “healthy.”