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How do I format a hard drive?

Note: Formatting a hard drive will erase all data on the hard drive.  Make sure you have any data backed up before continuing.

Windows

A hard drive can be formatted in Windows using Disk Management. To open Disk Management, complete the following:

Windows 8 and 10

  1. Right-click the Windows icon.
  2. Click Disk Management.

Windows 7

  1. Click Start.
  2. Right-click Computer.
  3. Click Manage.
  4. Click Disk Management.

In Disk Management, if the connected hard drive is not yet partitioned, it will show up with solid black bars and the label “Unallocated”. For more information on how to partition a hard drive and why you may want to, refer to the following FAQ: https://www.startech.com/faq/hard-drives-general-partition.

If the hard drive has already been partitioned but not formatted, it will show up in Disk Management with a blue bar, but without a file system associated. To format a hard drive, complete the following:

  1. Right-click on the blue bar.
  2. Select Format.
  3. Enter a name for the partition under Volume Label.
  4. Under File System, choose your preferred option.

Note: If you are unsure which option to choose, NTFS is commonly used.

  1. Click OK.

Mac OS

A hard drive can be formatted with the Mac OS Extended file system by using Disk Utility. To format the hard drive, complete the following:

  1. Click Finder.
  2. Click Applications.
  3. Click Utilities.
  4. On the left side of the window, click the drive name.
  5. Click Erase.
  6. Click Mac OS Extended (Journaled) under Format.
  7. Enter a name for the drive.
  8. Click Erase.
  9. Click Erase again to confirm.