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How to properly format a new hard drive on Windows 10

467 11/10/2021

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If you have a new drive, it's essential to format it to prepare the store for use, and in this guide, we'll show you how to complete this task on Windows 10.

On Windows 10, when connecting a new

internal

or

external

hard drive, it's important to spend the time to format it before storing files. You want to do this to make sure that the drive is empty, working as expected, and free of malware that might otherwise harm the current setup and files. It's also important to format the storage to ensure that it's using the proper settings to avoid compatibility problems.

Whenever you format a hard drive, the data will be deleted, since part of the process includes purging the file system table that tracks the locations of the files written on disk. The process will then define the area where files will be stored, and a compatible file system (such as NTFS, FAT32, or exFAT) will be applied to organize the new content. The system will continue to detect the previous data, but it'll identify that information as available space to store new data.

In this

Windows 10 guide

, we'll walk you through the steps to properly format a traditional hard drive or Solid-State Drive (SSD), whether it already has a partition or was never initialized.

How to format existing partition using Disk Management

How to create and format partition using Disk Management

How to format existing partition using Disk Management

When you're dealing with a drive that already has a partition, you can format the existing partition to delete its files and start with a clean storage.

To format a partition using Disk Management, use these steps:

Open

Start

.

Search for

Create and format hard disk partitions

and click the top result to open the

Disk Management

console.

Right-click the new hard drive and select the

Format

option.

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In the "Value label" field, confirm a new name for the storage.

Use the "File system" drop-down menu, and select the

NTFS

option (recommended for Windows 10).

Use the "Allocation unit size" drop-down menu, and select the

Default

option.

Check the

Perform a quick format

option.

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Quick tip:

The quick format option wipes the drive fast, but it doesn't check for problems. On the other hand, when clearing the option, a full format will be performed, which not only wipes the drive clean, but it'll also check for bad sectors. It's an option that could take many hours depending on the size, but it's a good practice to make sure the drive is in working conditions.

Clear the

Enable file and folder compression

option.

Click the

OK

button.

Click the

OK

button again.

Once you complete the steps, the tool will format the selected partition on the drive, and then you can begin storing files.

How to create and format partition using Disk Management

In the case that you have a hard drive that was never partitioned and formatted, it will not appear in File Explorer, and you'll have to initialize, create a new partition, and then format it before you can use it.

Usually, you can tell a hard drive doesn't have

a partition, because it will not appear in File Explorer, and on Disk Management, it'll show up as unallocated space.

To set up a new hard drive with raw space on Windows 10, use these steps:

Open

Start

.

Search for

Create and format hard disk partitions

and click the top result to open the

Disk Management

console.

Right-click the hard drive marked as "Unknown" and "Not Initialized" and select the

Initialize Disk

option.

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Under the "Select disks" section, check the disk to initialize.

Select the partition style:

Master Boot Record (MBR)

for hard drives smaller than 2TB in size.

GUID Partition Table (GPT)

for hard drives larger than 2TB in size.

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Click the

OK

button.

Right-click the

Unallocated space

part of the storage, and select the

New Simply Value

option.

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Click the

Next

button.

Under the "Simple volume size in MB" section, leave the default size if you're planning to use the entire hard drive to store files. Otherwise, specify the amount of space in megabytes you want to allocate for the partition.

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Click the

Next

button.

Use the "Assign the following drive letter" drop-down menu to select a new drive letter.

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Click the

Next

button.

Use the "File system" drop-down menu, and select the

NTFS

option (recommended for Windows 10).

Use the "Allocation unit size" drop-down menu, and select the

Default

option.

In the "Value label" field, type a descriptive name for the storage.

Check the

Perform a quick format

option.

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Quick tip:

To perform a full format that includes a disk check, clear the quick format option. If you use the full format option, remember that it can take many hours to complete depending on the size.

Clear the

Enable file and folder compression

option.

Click the

Next

button.

Click the

Finish

button.

After you complete the steps, the new hard drive will be initialized, partitioned, and properly formatted.

If the drive is exhibiting problems using the Disk Management tool, as a result of data corruption or another issue, you can use the

DiskPart command-line tool to resolve the problem

.

We're focusing this guide on Windows 10, but these instructions should also work on Windows 8.1 and Windows 7.

More Windows 10 resources

For more helpful articles, coverage, and answers to common questions about Windows 10, visit the following resources:

Windows 10 on Windows Central – All you need to know

Windows 10 help, tips, and tricks

Windows 10 forum on Windows Central

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