How to completely format your hard drive

how to completely format your hard drive

How to Erase and Format a Hard Drive

Sep 11, After Disk Management opens, which might take several seconds, look for the drive you want to format from the list at the top. There's a lot of information in Disk Management, so if you can't see everything, maximize the window. Look for the amount of storage on the drive as well as the drive . Dec 02, There are actually several ways to completely erase a hard drive, but using data destruction software is the easiest and still allows the hard drive to be used again. Complete whatever steps are necessary to install the software or, in the case of a bootable program like DBAN, get the ISO image on a CD or DVD disc, or a USB device like a flash drive.

To wipe a hard drive means to completely erase the drive of all its information. Deleting everything does not wipe a hard drive and formatting does not usually either. You'll need to take an extra step what is a jesuit high school the data can't be easily reconstructed later. When you format a hard drive or delete a partitionyou're usually only deleting the file systemmaking the data invisible, or no longer actively indexed, but not gone.

A file recovery program or special hardware often recovers the information. If you want to make sure that your private information is gone forever, you'll need to wipe the hard how to completely format your hard drive using special software. Wiping a hard drive is operating system independent if you use one of the how to completely format your hard drive tools from our list mentioned in Step 2 below, which means that it doesn't matter what OS is running on the drive. See the tip at the bottom of the page for information on a "simple" wipe using the format command in Windows 10Windows 8Windows 7and Windows Vista.

This process could take several minutes to several hours depending on how big the drive is and what method you choose. Back up anything you want to keep, such as photos, software product keys, etc. When the hard drive wipe is complete, there will be absolutely no way to get anything on the drive back. If you've been using an online backup serviceyou can safely assume that all your important files are already backed up online.

If you haven't been so proactive, pick from several free offline backup tools that can save your files to an external hard drive. Back up everything you want to keep; sometimes several virtual drives share space on a single physical hard drive. View the drives volumes that sit on a hard drive from the Disk Management tool in Windows. Download a free data destruction program. Any of the first six programs we recommend on that list will work great because they can be used to wipe a hard drive from outside of Windows, a necessary feature if you want to wipe the drive that Windows is installed on.

We're big fans of DBANour first pick on that list. It's probably the most widely used hard drive wiping tool but please know that it doesn't wipe solid-state drives. There are actually several ways to completely erase a hard drivebut using data destruction software is the easiest and still allows the hard drive to be used again.

Wipe the hard drive according to the program's instructions. Most data destruction programs offer several methods. If you're curious about the effectiveness or methods used to complete the wipe, see Data Sanitization Methods. Plug in your laptop or verify the battery's fully charged. The total time it takes to finish the HDD wipe depends on the size of the drive and the speed of the computer.

When it's all said and done, you can be confident that whatever information was on the drive is now gone for good. You can now install Windows on the what a pregnant women should not do, create a new partitionsell or give away the hard drive or computer, recycle or dispose of it, restore what is an equivalent fraction for 3 5 backed up files, or whatever else you need to do.

Beginning in Windows Vista, the format process changed and a single write-zero pass is applied to each standard non-quick format. In other words, a very basic hard drive wipe is performed during a format. If a single write-zero pass is good enough for you, consider your drive wiped after a regular format in Windows 10, 8, 7, or Vista. If you want something even more secure, follow the hard drive wipe instructions above. This is a wipe of just the partition you're formatting.

If you have more than one partition on a physical hard drive, you'll need to format those additional drives as well if you want to consider the entire physical disk as "wiped. If what you really want to do is just make sure that files you delete on a regular basis are really gone and not retrievable with special tools, a data wiping program is more than you need. See our list of free file shredder software programs for programs that "destroy" individual files on an as-needed basis.

Many of those shredder programs also do what's called a free space wipewhich is a wipe of all the "empty" space on your hard drive. The how to recover deleted files from android phone internal memory for this is to ensure that the files you've already deleted are actually deleted for good.

Still confused? Actively scan device characteristics for identification. Use precise geolocation data. Select personalised content. Create a personalised content profile. Measure ad how to completely format your hard drive. Select basic ads. Create a personalised ads profile. Select personalised ads.

Apply market research to generate audience insights. Measure content performance. Develop and improve products. List of Partners vendors. Tim Fisher. General Manager, VP, Lifewire. He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Updated on December 02, Tweet Share Email.

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Reformatting hard drive issue

Feb 21, If you want to erase a hard drive, but also want it to work properly after being erased, you must erase the drive using data destruction software (option 1, above) instead. Note. For the average computer owner or organization, degaussing probably isn't a cost-effective way to completely erase a . May 27, Using Windows 1. Open Start. Click the Windows logo in the bottom-left corner of the screen. The Start menu window will open on the 2. Type partitions into Start. Doing so will search for the Partition section of the Computer Management program. 3. Views: K. Jul 13, How to completely wipe a hard drive. Follow these steps to ensure youre truly wiping your hard drive clean. Theyll help keep you from passing on or losing your documents, photos, passwords, financial information, and personal data when you say goodbye to your old device. Step 1: Back up your hard-drive data.

To format a hard drive means to erase any information on the drive and to set up a file system so your operating system can read data from , and write data to , the drive. You need to format a hard drive if you plan on using it in Windows. As complicated as that might sound, this isn't really difficult to do in any version of Windows. All operating systems offer this capability and Windows makes it easy.

If the hard drive you want to format has never been used or was just wiped clean, it must first be partitioned. Once partitioned, return to this page for help formatting the drive.

Time Required: The time it takes to format a hard drive in Windows depends almost entirely on the drive's size, but your computer's overall speed plays a part, too. Open Disk Management , the hard drive manager included with all versions of Windows. Opening Disk Management can be done a number of ways depending on your version of Windows, but the easiest method is to type diskmgmt. Another way to open Disk Management is through Control Panel. After Disk Management opens, which might take several seconds, look for the drive you want to format from the list at the top.

There's a lot of information in Disk Management, so if you can't see everything, maximize the window. Look for the amount of storage on the drive as well as the drive name.

For example, if it says Music for the drive name and it has 2 GB of hard drive space, then you've likely selected a small flash drive full of music. Feel free to open the drive to make sure that it's what you want to format if it makes you confident that you're going to format the right device. If you don't see the drive listed on the top or an Initialize Disk windows appears, it probably means that the hard drive is new and has not yet been partitioned.

Partitioning is something that must be done before a hard drive is formatted. See our article How to Partition a Hard Drive for instructions and then come back to this step to continue the formatting process.

Now that you've found the drive you want to format, right-click it and choose Format to open the disk-formatting wizard. Now is as good a time as any to remind you that you really, really, really need to make sure that this is the right drive. You certainly don't want to format the wrong hard drive. You cannot format your C drive, or whatever drive Windows is installed on, from within Windows.

In fact, the Format option isn't even enabled for the drive with Windows on it. See How to Format C for instructions on formatting the C drive.

The first of several formatting details which we'll cover over the next several steps is the volume label , which is essentially a name given to the hard drive.

In the Volume label textbox, enter whatever name you'd like to give to the drive. If the drive had a previous name and that makes sense for you, by all means, keep it. Drive letters are assigned during the Windows partitioning process but can easily be changed after the format is complete.

See How to Change Drive Letters after the format process is done if you'd like to do that. Next up is the file system choice. NTFS is the most recent file system available and is almost always the best choice. Only choose FAT32 FATwhich is actually FAT16isn't available unless the drive is 2 GB or smaller if you are specifically told to do so by a program's instructions that you're planning on using on the drive. This is not common. In the Allocation unit size textbox, choose Default.

The best allocation size based on the size of the hard drive will be chosen. It's not at all common to set a custom allocation unit size when formatting a hard drive in Windows. Next is the Perform a quick format checkbox. Windows will check this box by default, suggesting that you do a "quick format" but we recommend that you uncheck this box so that a "standard format" is performed.

In a standard format , each individual "part" of the hard drive, called a sector, is checked for errors and overwritten with a zero a sometimes painfully slow process. This procedure ensures that the hard drive is physically working as expected, that each sector is a reliable place to store data, and that existing data is unrecoverable. In a quick format , this bad sector search and basic data sanitization is skipped entirely and Windows assumes that the hard drive is free of errors. A quick format is very fast.

You, of course, can do whatever you likeeither method will get the drive formatted. However, especially for older and brand new drives, we'd prefer to take our time and do the error checking right now instead of letting our important data do the testing for us later on.

The data sanitization aspect of a full format is nice, too, if you're planning on selling or disposing of this drive. The final format option is the Enable file and folder compression setting that is unchecked by default, which we recommend sticking with. The file and folder compression feature allows you to choose files or folders to be compressed and decompressed on the fly, potentially offering considerable savings on hard drive space.

The downside here is that performance can be equally affected, making your day-to-day Windows use much slower than it would be without compression enabled. File and folder compression has little use in today's world of very large and very inexpensive hard drives. In all but the rarest occasions, a modern computer with a large hard drive is better off protecting all the processing power it can and skipping on the hard drive space savings.

Review the settings you've made in the last several steps and then click OK. As a reminder, here's what you should see:. Look back at whatever previous steps you need to if you're wondering why these are the best options.

Windows is usually pretty good about warning you before you might do something damaging, and a hard drive format is no exception. Click OK to the warning message about formatting the drive. Just as the warning says, all the information on this drive will be erased if you click OK. You can't cancel the format process halfway through and expect to have half of your data back. As soon as this starts, there's no going back.

There's no reason for this to be scary but we do want you to understand the finality of a format. The hard drive format has begun! If you chose a quick format , your hard drive should only take several seconds to format. If you chose the standard format , which we suggested, the time it takes the drive to format will depend almost completely on the size of the drive. A small drive will take a small amount of time to format and a very large drive will take a very long time to format.

Your hard drive's speed, as well as your overall computer's speed, play some part but the size is the biggest variable.

In the next step, we'll look at whether the format completed as planned. There's a little overhead involved so don't worry if your drive isn't completely empty. That's it! Your hard drive has been formatted and it's ready for use in Windows. You can use the new drive however you wantback up files, store music, and videos, etc. If you'd like to change the drive letter assigned to this drive, now is the best time to do that. See How to Change a Drive Letter for help. When you format a drive in Windows, data may or may not truly be erased.

Depending on your version of Windows, and the type of format, it's possible the data is still there, hidden from Windows and other operating systems but still accessible in certain situations. If the hard drive you're reformatting won't ever need to be used again, you can skip the format and the wipe, and physically or magnetically destroy it instead. If you want to format your hard drive so you can install Windows again from scratch, your hard drive will be automatically formatted as part of that process.

See How to Clean Install Windows for more on that. Not happy with the drive letter that Windows assigned during the partitioning process? You're welcome to change it at any time!

You can also format a hard drive via Command Prompt using the format command. Actively scan device characteristics for identification. Use precise geolocation data. Select personalised content. Create a personalised content profile. Measure ad performance. Select basic ads. Create a personalised ads profile. Select personalised ads. Apply market research to generate audience insights. Measure content performance. Develop and improve products.

List of Partners vendors. Tim Fisher. General Manager, VP, Lifewire. He writes troubleshooting content and is the General Manager of Lifewire. Facebook Twitter LinkedIn. Updated on September 11, Ryan Perian. Lifewire Tech Review Board Member. Article reviewed on Feb 21,

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