How Do You Format a Hard Drive?


Quick Answer

To format a hard drive, insert your Windows 7 installation disc, and set your optical drive as the primary boot option in the BIOS settings. Initiate the setup procedure, and format the drive that contains the previous Windows installation. Make sure to back up your files before formatting.

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Full Answer

  1. Back up your files

    Connect a USB drive, or an external hard drive, to your computer, and transfer the important files to it. There is no need to back up system files because the installation process recreates them automatically from the disc.

  2. Set your optical drive as the primary boot option

    Restart your computer, and look for the message that indicates what key to press to access BIOS while Windows is booting up, usually it is the Delete key. When the message appears, press the displayed key. Navigate to the Boot section, and move your optical drive to the top of the hierarchy list. Select the Save and Exit option when ready, and select Yes.

  3. Format the hard drive

    Insert your Windows 7 installation disc, and restart your computer. Press any key when prompted to initiate the setup process. Follow the installation wizard’s instructions, and select the Custom or Advanced option when prompted. Select your hard drive from the list, and click on Delete. Repeat the process if there are multiple partitions on the list. Click on the Unallocated Space option, and click Next. The setup process should automatically format the hard drive using the NTFS file system. Once the formatting is complete, reverse the boot settings in BIOS, and transfer your files back to the new installation.

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