What are the steps of formatting a hard drive?


Quick Answer

The steps of formatting a hard drive are backing up the existent data, specifying the desired outcome of the process and initiating the format. Depending on the format method and the size of the hard drive, the format can take a few minutes or hours.

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Full Answer

As formatting deletes everything on a hard drive partition, you must first back up the important data on the drive. Either clone the entire hard disk or back up individual files by copying them to another storage device or uploading them to a cloud storage service. The free version of Macrium Reflect is able to clone hard drives.

The built-in Disk Management application can format hard drivers. Press the Start button, type diskmgmt.msc into the search box, and click diskmgmt from the results. Once the application opens, verify the hard drive partition you want to format by double clicking it from the list. Having identified the partition, right click it, and choose Format from the menu. Choose the file system, allocation unit size and the format method, and then click OK.

Disk Management offers two methods of formatting: quick and full. While a full format deletes every piece of information on the disk, a quick format only deletes the file journal and leaves the actual data intact. As such, a quick format is not as safe but takes less time to complete.

It is not possible to format the drive that holds the operating system from Disk Management. To do so, boot your system with a Windows Setup Disc, follow the instructions until you get to the disc selection dialog. Select the disc you want to format, and click Format below. Formatting the system partition deletes the operating system in the process. As such, the system no longer boots Windows.

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