How to Format (External) Hard Drive Windows 10/11 [5+ Fixes]
|Workable Solutions||Step-by-step Troubleshooting|
|Format a Hard Drive [New Drive]||
Method 1. EaseUS Partition Master...Full steps
Method 2. Disk Management...Full steps
|Format an External Hard Drive [Drive in Use]||
Method 1. EaseUS Management Software...Full steps
Method 2. File Explorer...Full steps
Method 3. Disk Management...Full steps
Method 4. Command Prompt...Full steps
|Reformat or Wipe a Hard Drive||Wipe a hard drive using EaseUS Partition Master...Full steps|
On this page, we'll show you how to format (external) hard drive in Windows 11/10, wipe a hard drive, and guide you through the process, making your drive ready for storing data, installing Windows, or other purposes.
Formatting is an essential step before you start using a new hard drive, an internal or external hard drive on Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista. Whether you are using Windows 11/10 or old Windows 7, check out how to format a hard drive or an external hard drive on your own now.
Need to Format External Hard Drive or Hard Drive Windows 11/10?
People might need to format hard drive or external hard drive in Windows 11/10 for various reasons. Here is a list of reasons or let's call it benefits that explains why people intend to format their hard drives, external hard drives, USB or SD, etc., storage devices:
- Format new hard drive before usage
- Format to change a hard drive file system for some specific purposes
- Format a hard drive for a clean installation of the Windows system
- Reformat or wipe a hard drive to erase data, such as restoring the full capacity of a disk
However, only a few people know how to get the job done correctly. In the following, we'll introduce you to format a new hard drive in Windows 11/10, format internal/external hard drive, and how to reformat or wipe a hard drive on your own.
During the process, you may need to use Windows Disk Management, Windows File Explorer, Windows DiskPart, and even a third-party partition manager, etc., for help.
- As formatting will delete all the data on the hard drive, make sure that you have backed up your files to another safe place before Windows 11/10 disk formatting.
Applies to: Format brand new hard drive or external hard drive on Windows 11/10.
Requested Tools: ①. New HDD/SSD or external HDD; ②. Connection cable - SATA Cable, power cable, or USB 3.0 connection cable; ③. Format tool - EaseUS partition manager or Disk Management.
If you have a new hard drive or a new external hard drive, you'll need to initialize it first and create a new partition on it before you can format it. The reason is that a new hard drive doesn't have a partition, and as a result, it won't appear in File Explorer.
But you can use a third-party partition manager software like EaseUS Partition Master or Disk Management for help. Insert or connect your new hard drive to the computer, learn how to initialize SSD and format it in Windows 11/10 now:
Best for: Windows beginners
Advantages: Easy to operate
For most Windows beginners, Windows disk management is not user-friendly as the whole operating process is tricky for them. To help you quickly make the new hard drive usable again, here we suggest you try EaseUS Partition Master.
It's efficient and easy. You can start to format your own new hard drive now:
First. Initialize New Hard Drive
Step 1. EaseUS Partition Master. Connect the hard drive or SSD to PC.
Step 2. Initialize your HDD/SSD
Right-click the target HDD or SSD and select "Initialize to MBR" or "Initialize to GPT" according to your need.
Step 3. Click "Execute Operation" to keep the changes.
Next. Create Partition on New Hard Drive
Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master. On the main window, right-click on the unallocated space on your hard drive or external storage device and select "Create".
Step 2. Adjust the partition size, file system (Choose the file system based on your need), label, etc. for the new partition and click "OK" to continue.
Step 3. Click on the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button and create a new partition by clicking "Apply".
Watch the following video tutorial and learn how to create a partition in NTFS, FAT, or EXT file system.
Note that during the creating partition process, EaseUS Partition Master will automatically format the created partition, making it ready for usage immediately.
Best for: Experienced Windows users
To properly format a new hard drive, you need to be very careful while using Disk Management. To format a new hard drive using Disk Management, use these steps:
Step 1. Press "Windows + R" keys, type diskmgmt.msc and click "OK" to open Disk Management.
Step 2. Right-click the hard drive or SSD marked as "Unknown" and "Not Initialized," and select "Initialize Disk".
If the disk shows as Offline, first right-click it and select "Online".
Step 3. In the Initialize Disk dialog box, check the disk to initialize. And then click "OK" to accept the default partition style, or you can change the partition style (GPT or MBR) as you want.
- Master Boot Record (MBR) is for hard drives smaller than 2TB in size.
- GUID Partition Table (GPT) is for hard drives larger than 2TB in size.
Step 4. Find the initialized disk, right-click the unallocated space, and select the "New Simply Value" option.
Step 5. Set up and format the created partition on the new hard drive.
Follow the on-screen instructions to set up volume size, drive letter, NTFS as the file system, and check the "Perform a quick format" option.
Step 6. Click the "Next" > "Finish" button.
Depending on the size of the drive, it can take some time to finish. When the process completes, your new hard drive will be initialized, partitioned, and properly formatted.
Applies to: Format a used internal or external hard drive in Windows 11/10/8/7/XP, etc.
Requested Tools: ①. HDD/SSD or external HDD; ②. Connection cable - SATA Cable, power cable, or USB 3.0 connection cable; ③. Format tool - EaseUS partition manager, Disk Management, File Explorer, DiskPart.
If you have a hard drive or an external hard drive already organized with partitions, you can format the existing partition to remove its content and start fresh with a clean drive. We cover the three most popular ways to format a partition, like displayed below.
Keep your hard drive or external HDD connected to your PC and choose one method that works best for you to start formatting the disk on your now:
Best for: All levels of Windows users, specially designed for Windows beginners
Advantages: Easy & 4-Step Formatting
EaseUS Partition Master is a popular disk partition management tool that is available for all hard disk managing jobs, such as to format disk partition, extend system partition, settle low disk space problem, convert MBR to GPT without data loss and vice versa.
It even works when you failed to do the Windows 11/10 disk format job or can't format hard drive with other Windows formatting tools.
Video Tutorial to Format A HDD/SSD in Windows 11/10
In this tutorial, TheWindowsClub shares how to format a hard drive for Windows 11/10 with File Explorer.
- 0:22 Format hard drive or external hard drive by File Explorer
Step-by-step Guide to Format Hard Drive/External HDD in Windows 11/10
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 "Yes" to continue.
Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button, then click "Apply" to start formatting the hard drive partition.
Repeat the whole process to format all existing partitions on your hard drive one by one.
You May Get Another Hard Drive for formatting:
Best for: Windows beginners
Another easy way is to use Windows File Explorer to format a working hard drive or external hard drive on your Windows PC. Here are the steps:
Here, we'll take formatting an external hard drive as an example to show you the formatting process.
How to Format A Hard Drive for Windows 10/11:
1. Connect your external hard drive to a Windows PC and open Windows File Explorer.
Press "Windows key + E" to bring up the Windows Explorer. Or you can click and open up the "Computer" in Windows 7 or "This PC" in Windows 11/10.
2. Right-click the external hard drive and select "Format".
3. Select a desired file system format - NTFS for your device.
4. Check "Quick Format" and click "Start".
5. click "OK" to confirm and finish the formatting.
If you have several partitions created on your hard drive, repeat the whole process till you cleaned all the partitions.
Best for: Experienced Windows users
Windows 11/10 offers users a built-in disk management tool to create, format, extend, shrink, and delete partition. Here are the steps to format hard drive partition using Disk Management:
Step 1. Right-click on Windows icon and select "Disk Management".
Step 2. Right-click on the target drive or partition and click on "Format".
Step 3. Select the file system and set the cluster size.
Step 4. Click "OK" to format the drive.
Repeat the steps to format the rest partitions on your hard drive.
Best for: Experienced users & administrators
Unlike Disk Management and File Explorer, DiskPart Command Prompt does more than merely formatting disk. It also lets you do other more advanced operations on your computer.
Be careful with every step, as any false operation may cause serious results. Here are the steps to format hard drive partition using DiskPart Command Prompt:
Step 1. Type cmdin the search box in Windows 11/10, right-click on Command Prompt, and choose "Run as administrator".
Step 2. In the command prompt, type diskpart and press "Enter".
Step 3. Type the following command lines and hit Enter each time:
- list disk
- select disk + disk number ( for example, select disk 2)
- list volume
- select volume + volume number
- format fs=ntfs
Repeat the process till you have formatted all exiting volumes on your hard drive.
Step 4. Type exit and hit Enter to close the command window.
All the ways above can help you format a used hard drive or external hard drive in Windows 11/10. If you want a comprehensive solution that can help you manage your disk easily, we highly recommend you try EaseUS Partition Master.
Applies to: Clean up whole hard drive data by re-formatting or wipe hard drive at one time in Windows 11/10/8/7.
Requested Tools: ①. HDD/SSD or external HDD; ②. Connection cable - SATA Cable, power cable, or USB 3.0 connection cable; ③. Hard disk wipe tool - EaseUS partition manager
Sometimes, people may want to re-format or wipe a hard drive so as to clean up existing data on the device thoroughly. Reformatting a hard drive indeed works but you have to repeat the formatting again and again.
In this part, we've collected an efficient way to help you wipe hard drive data, clear all existing data on the device at one time.
Wipe a Hard Drive using EaseUS Partition Master
Best for: All levels of Windows users
Advantages: One-click to wipe a hard drive several times
Data loss issue due to misformatting hard drive or formatting without backups occurs from time to time. Formatting doesn't erase the data on the disk, only removing the address tables.
However, without a data recovery tool, you cannot recover data from a formatted hard drive. EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard is capable of recovering lost data even if you accidentally format a disk without a backup.
This top-notch file recovery software enables you to quickly and simply restore lost data because of hard drive formatting, partition loss, OS crash, virus attack, and more. You can even use it to recover deleted file from Recycle Bin and recover deleted files Windows 10 in only a few clicks.
Now, download this robust data recovery program and recover data after formatting hard drive.
Step 1. Scan the hard drive partition
Select the drive on your hard disk where you lost or deleted files. Click "Scan" and let EaseUS data recovery software scan for all lost data and files on the selected drive.
Step 2. Check the results
When the scan completes, you can apply the "Filter" feature or click the "Search files or folders" option to find the lost files on the hard drive.
Step 3. Restore lost hard drive data
Select wanted files that you lost on the drive and click "Recover" to save them to another location.
On this page, we covered comprehensive solutions to help you resolve formatting hard drive issues on your own. With the presented methods, you can easily format a brand new hard drive, format an internal or external hard drive, and even thoroughly wipe a hard drive in Windows 11/10.
As for Windows beginners, we suggest you back up important data first, then apply a practical formatting tool like EaseUS Partition Master for help.
Format External Hard Drive Windows 11/10 FAQs
We collected some top concerned questions and list answers here. If you have the same questions about hard drive formatting in Windows 11/10, check the following FAQs.
1. Can't format hard drive in Windows 11/10, how to fix?
When you can't format a hard drive in using Disk Management or file explorer, give EaseUS Partition Master a shot. It can directly resolve your issue with its Format feature.
You can also refer to Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format for further fixes.
2. How do I format hard drive when the disk management format option greyed out?
When you are making hard drive maintenance with free disk management tools, you may encounter the issue - "Disk Management format greyed out".
You can't format a partition because the "Format" option is greyed out in Windows 11/10/8/7. To solve the "Format volume greyed out" issue, we have offered these solutions:
- Restart PC
- Format Hard Drive using Disk Management alternative, like EaseUS Partition Master
- Run CMD to format hard drive
For a detailed guide, you may refer to "Format Option Greyed Out" for help.
3. How do I format HDD or external hard drive to FAT32?
According to some game players, sometimes, they need to format a hard drive or an external hard drive to FAT32 for specific usage. However, the normal formatting way can't help.
When there is no FAT32 option in Windows 11/10 File Explorer or Disk Management, you can apply either the Windows CMD or the third-party partition manager - EaseUS Partition Master to format device to FAT32 in Windows 11/10/8/7.
Turn to professional FAT32 formatting tools for help and format HDD to FAT32 now.
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About the 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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