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4 Tips| How to Format C Drive in Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7

Updated by Tracy King on Aug 30, 2021
Written by Jean

You delete everything including the operating system when you set your mind to format C drive. You cannot use the quick format on the C drive as on other non-system drives, but we can teach you a special method from the beginning to the end.

format C drive using Windows setup

Quick Access - How to Format C Drive in Windows 11/10

  • Boot using the Windows Setup Disc.
  • Once the Windows installs, you will see the screen.
  • Click Install Now and wait until it finishes.
  • Accept the terms and conditions and select Next.
  • Go to the Custom (advanced) option.
  • Now, a prompt will ask you the location for the Windows installation.
  • Select Format among the options...Read More>>

Top 4 Tips on How to Format C Drive in Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7

This guide provides you with four ways to format C drive (system partition). You can wipe data, reinstall the system after formatting. Follow these methods if you want to learn how to format C drive in Windows 11/10 successfully.

Workable Solutions Step-by-step Troubleshooting
Fix 1. Format with Partition Tool Connect or insert the USB/CD/DVD to your computer and launch EaseUS Partition Master...Full steps
Fix 2. Format with Windows Setup Boot with the Windows Setup Disc. Place the CD in the optical hard drive...Full steps
Fix 3. Use a System Repair Disc Insert CD/DVD into DVD-ROM or connected external DVD drive...Full steps
Fix 4. Change a USB port If you have a Windows XP Setup CD, you can format C from the Recovery Console...Full steps

About Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7 Disk/ C Drive Formatting

According to Wikipedia, "Disk formatting is the process of preparing a data storage device such as hard disk drive, solid-state drive, floppy disk or USB flash drive for initial use." Formatting a drive will erase all the existing content on the device, therefore, if you have important files on the partition or storage device, back them up before the format. Generally, formatting a disk for use by an operating system and its applications typically involves three different processes.

The high-level formatting creates the file system format within a disk partition or a logical volume. Hence, when it comes to formatting a C drive, it's related to the high-level formatting.

Can You Format C Drive in Windows 11/10/8.1/8/7

"Can I format the C drive to install Windows 7?"
"Can I format the C drive to reinstall Windows 10?"

The answer is both "Yes" and "No." Why can't you format the C drive in Windows 11/10? The C drive is where the Windows operating system locates. To format C means that you erase the operating system and other information on the C drive, or the primary partition using Windows. How can you expect Windows to erase itself?

you can not format this volume

Therefore, you can't format the C drive within Windows 11/10 or any other versions of Windows. When you attempt to format the C drive, which contains the operating system that is currently running, you will receive a prompt saying, "You can not format this volume. It contains the version of Windows that you're using. Formatting this volume could cause your computer to stop working", as shown in the image below.

The good news is that there are still ways to format a C drive that contains the operating system. As long as you can boot your computer from another operating system with formatting abilities, you can get it down quickly.

Fix 1. How to Format C Drive in Windows 11/10 with Third-party Tool

  1. 1. Create a bootable disk
  2. 2. Boot the computer from the disk
  3. 3. Format the C drive

Among the four available choices, let's choose the most straightforward method to start, which is to use the partition tool - EaseUS Partition Master. With this software, you don't need the Windows installation disc or tools alike.

Reliable Partition Management Tool

  • Transfer free disk space from one drive to another directly.
  • Resize/move, merge, clone partition, and check file system error.
  • Clone disk, convert to MBR/GPT, convert to dynamic/basic, and even wipe data.
  • Migrate OS, increase partition space, and more

Procedure 1. Create a Bootable Disk

Download EaseUS Partition Master to create a bootable disk. The WinPE bootable disk allows you to access your hard drive outside the current OS.

Step 1. To create a bootable disk of EaseUS Partition Master, you should prepare a storage media, like a USB drive, flash drive or a CD/DVD disc. Then, correctly connect the drive to your computer.

Step 2. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, find the "WinPE Creator" feature on the top. Click on it.

Step 3. You can choose the USB or CD/DVD when the drive is available. However, if you do not have a storage device at hand, you can also save the ISO file to a local drive, and later burn it to a storage media. Once made the option, click the "Proceed" button to begin.

When the process finishes, you have successfully created an EaseUS Partition Master WinPE bootable disk. Now, you can manage your hard disks and partitions through the bootable drive whenever the computer fails to boot normally.

If you have RAID drives, load the RAID driver first by clicking Add Driver from the menu bar, which can help you add the driver of your device under WinPE environment, as some specific device cannot be recognized under WinPE environment without drivers installed, such as RAID or some specific hard disk.

Procedure 2. Boot the Computer from the Bootable Media

Step 1. Restart your computer and press the BIOS key (depending on the computer you use, it could be F2, F8, the Delete key...) to enter BIOS.

Step 2. In BIOS, set to boot the computer from the bootable USB/CD/DVD.

Procedure 3. Format the C Drive Using EaseUS Partition Master

After the startup, your computer will boot into a system with EaseUS Partition Master installed. Now your computer is using another operating system with formatting abilities. You can format the C drive with ease.

Step 1. Right-click the hard drive partition and choose the "Format" option.

Step 2. In the new window, set the Partition label, File system, and Cluster size for the partition, then click "OK".

Step 3. You can see a warning window, click "OK" to continue.

Step 4. Click the "Execute Operation" button in the top-left corner, then click "Apply" to start formatting the hard drive partition.

Fix 2. Format C Drive with Windows Setup or External Storage Media

It is a convenient way to format C drive with this method. You can format C drive this way -  using Windows 11/10, Windows 8, Windows 7, or Windows Vista installation media. Here are the steps to format C drive:

Step 1. Boot with the Windows Setup Disc. Place the CD in the optical hard drive and follow the instructions.

Step 2. Select the language you want to use and select "Next".

Step 3. Click "Install Now" and wait until it finishes. This process isn't really installing the Windows OS. 

Step 4. Accept the terms and conditions and select "Next".

Step 5. Go to the Custom (advanced) option. You will see a list of all the existing drives. Click "Drive options (advanced)".

Step 6. Select "Format". Now, Windows will start the process of formatting your drive.

format c drive using windows setup

Fix 3. Format C Drive with System Repair Disc in Windows 11/10/8/7

You can also format a C drive by making a System Repair Disc. If you don't have a copy of Windows 7, 8, 10, or 11, you can create your own disc and use it to boot then format drive C. Steps to format C drive with a System Repair Disc.

Step 1. Create a System Repair Disc.

  1. 1. Insert CD/DVD into DVD-ROM or connected external DVD drive.
  2. 2. Click "Control Panel" on the computer screen, then click "Backup and Restore (Windows 7)".
  3. 3. Click "Create a system repair disc" from the left column to open the repair disc creation window. Follow the on-screen instructions to create a system repair disc.

format system drive with repair disc

Step 2. Format C Drive with the System Repair Disc.

  1. 1. Insert the disc in the optical drive and restart your PC. You will be shown a prompt telling you to press any key to boot from the CD. Wait for the installation to complete. Choose your preferred language and continue.
  2. 2. You will be redirected to System Recovery. Select the "Use recovery tools..." option and proceed.
  3. 3. Go to Command Prompt. Enter the following command: format c: /fs:NTFS
  4. 4. You will be asked to provide the volume level. Enter the label. Proceed to the format by typing in Y and hit Enter. Once the format is finished, enter the Volume Label.

format c drive with system repair disc

Fix 4. Format Windows XP C Drive with Recovery Console

Recovery Console does not exist in Windows Vista or later, nor does it exist in Windows ME, Windows 98, or earlier. If you have a Windows XP Setup CD, you can format C from the Recovery Console.

format c drive with recovery console

Whether to Format the C Drive or Not

But wait a second. Is it really necessary to format the C drive on a computer? According to information from pre-sales consulting, the primary purpose of users to erase an old operating system is to leave room for the new OS installation. That's unnecessary.

When you reinstall Windows on the disk that has an OS, you have to format the disk. That is to say, the format will occur during the operating system installation. Thus, if you intend to format the C drive for Windows installation, it's needless to format the system drive in advance.

related articles

How to Format SD Card Using CMD Windows 11/10/8/7?

Altogether, three SD card formatting approaches are given here to help format SD memory cards effortlessly.

format SD card using CMD

Yet there are always some expectations. What if you have to format the C drive to wipe your hard drive and erase all your system information, settings, files, and programs on that partition? There are four choices for you:

  • Partition tool (for Windows 11, 10,  8, 7, or Windows Vista or Windows XP)
  • A Windows setup disk or flash drive (for Windows 11, 10,  8, 7, or Windows Vista or Windows XP)
  • A system repair disc (for Windows 11/10, Windows 8, or Windows 7)
  • Recovery Console for (Windows XP)

The Bottom Line

In conclusion, formatting a C drive is unnecessary if you want to do it for installing Windows because the OS installation requires you to format the disk during the process. If you have to format the C drive on your computer, there are several options for you. The easiest one is to create a bootable media with software like EaseUS Partition Master (Fix 1). A bootable USB/CD/DVD enables you to format the target OS from another OS effortlessly. Hope the guide is helpful to you.

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Updated by Tracy King

Tracy joined in EaseUS in 2013 and has been working with EaseUS content team for over 7 years. Being enthusiastic in computing and technology, she writes tech how-to articles and share technical solutions about Windows & Mac data recovery, file/system backup and recovery, partition management and iOS/Android data recovery.

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Written by Jean

Author Jean has been writing tech articles since she was graduated from university. She has been part of the EaseUS team for over 5 years. Her special focuses are data recovery, disk partitioning, data space optimization, data backup and Mac OS. By the way, she's an aviation fan!

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