How to format your secondary hard disk in Windows

How to format your secondary hard disk in Windows

If you’re installing a new hard drive, or need to wipe your drive clean for that “fresh” feeling, you’ll end up formatting your drive.

Formatting will check the drive for errors, and prepare it for use. If a drive has data on it, formatting the drive will remove all of the pointers to your files.

Traditional, magnetic-platter hard drives as well as solid-state drives can be formatted.

Before you begin, be sure to back up important files on the disk before you format.

Use Disk Management

To partition and format your drive, you can use Windows’ built-in tool called Disk Management.

You can repartition and format your hard drives in Windows using the Disk Management tool.

In Windows 10, click Start. Next, right-click the start button 

Then click “Disk Management” - a window will open.

A list of all connected disk drives is displayed in the centre. Unpartitioned drives appear with solid black bars and the label “Unallocated.” Partitioned drives appear with solid blue bars and a drive letter.

Partitioning your drive

To format an internal or external hard drive to use for backup or additional storage, the drive needs to be partitioned. Partitioning divides your drive into sections, but you can choose to simply have one partition (a single section encompassing the entire drive).

If your drive isn’t partitioned, follow these instructions to partition it. Otherwise, skip down to the next section.

Right-click the black bar or the unallocated white space below it and select New Simple Volume… Don’t be dissuaded by the word, “Volume.” It’s just another term for “partition”. Click Next.

To create a single, whole-drive partition, make sure the “Simple volume size in MB” value is the same as the “Maximum disk space in MB” value. Click Next.

Assign a drive letter of your choice. Click Next.

Select Format this volume. For File System, choose NTFS if you’ll be using the drive only with Windows machines. If you will be sharing the information on the drive with Macs, choose exFAT. Keep Allocation unit size at Default. Choose a name for the partition under Volume label. We advise you not to select Enable file and folder compression. You can however leave the "quick format" checked however to save a heap of time waiting for it to complete. Click Next.

Confirm your selections and click Finish.

Formatting your partitions

Once your drive is partitioned, each partition will have to be formatted with a filesystem. Luckily, the Disk Management utility makes this really easy. 

Right-click the blue bar or the white space below it and select Format.

Choose a name for the partition under “Volume label.” For File System, choose NTFS if you’ll be using this drive only with Windows machines. Linux machines can read unencrypted NTFS partitions as well.

If you will be sharing the information on this drive with Macs, choose exFAT. Keep “Allocation unit size” at Default. Do not select Perform a quick format or Enable file and folder compression. Click OK.

Confirm your choices.

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