How to Format Hard Drive in Windows 10

Jean updated on Nov 13, 2019 to Partition Master | How-to Articles

How to format a new hard drive
How to format an already used hard drive
How to recover data after mistakenly formatting hard drive without backups

Windows 10 Hard Drive Format Overview

People might need to format a hard drive or an external hard drive in Windows 10 for various reasons. For instance, users want to write data to and read data from, to do a clean installation of the Windows system, to get rid of a virus or malware, to erase the data before giving the drive to someone else or throwing it away, or some other reasons. However, only a few people know how to get the job done correctly. Here, we will introduce you to how to format hard drive in Windows 10 with Windows built-in Disk Management tool, a partition manager, and command lines.

As formatting will delete all the data on the hard drive, make sure that you have successfully backed up your files to another safe place before Windows 10 disk format. Besides, disk formatting is partition formatting, so if you want to format a hard drive, ensure there are partitions on the disk. If you need to format a new hard drive, refer to the following method.

How to Format a New Hard Drive in Windows 10

If you happen to have a new hard drive to format, you'll need to initialize and create a new partition on it before you can format it. When a hard drive doesn't have a partition, it won't appear in File Explorer. But you can find it in the Disk Management, showing with unallocated space.

To properly format a new hard drive, let's start initializing it using Disk Management at first. You can still easily initialize a hard drive/SSD in Windows 10 with a professional partition management software.

Step 1. In Windows 10, press "Windows + R" key, 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".

initialize hard drive for formatting

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. Then, follow the on-screen instructions to choose a volume size, assign a drive letter, select NTFS as the file system, and finish other settings.

Step 5. Check the "Perform a quick format" option. Then, 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.

format a new hard drive windows 10

How to Format an Already Used Hard Drive

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. Choose the one that works best for you.

Format Hard Drive with Windows Disk Management

Windows 10 offers users a built-in disk management tool to create, delete, extend, shrink, and format partitions.

Step 1. Type Control Panel in the search box. Click "Control Panel" > "Administrative Tools" > "Computer Management" > "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.

format hard drive windows 10

Format Hard Drive in Windows 10 with EaseUS Management Software

EaseUS partition software is a popular disk partition management tool that is available for all hard disk related jobs such as format disk partition, extend system partition, settle low disk space problem, convert MBR to GPT without data loss and vice versa. You can try it whenever you failed to do the Windows 10 disk format job with the Windows disk management tool.

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 Windows 10 is supported


Step 1: Run EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the hard drive partition you intend to format and choose "Format".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 1

Step 2: In the new window, set the Partition label, File system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3), and Cluster size for the partition to be formatted, then click "OK".

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 2

Step 3: Then you will see a warning window, click "OK" in it to continue.

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 3

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

Format Hard Drive Partition - Step 4

Smaller cluster size makes less wasting of disk space. The smaller cluster size is, the bigger the file allocation table (FAT) will be. The bigger the FAT is, the slower the operating system works with the disk.

Format Hard Drive with Diskpart in Command Prompt

Step 1. Type cmd in the search box. Right-click on Command Prompt and choose "Run as administrator".

Step 2. On the Command Prompt black window, type diskpart and press "Enter". Then, type the following command lines in order.

  • Type list disk and press "Enter". All the disk drives will be listed, including your external drives.
  • Type select disk + disk number, for example, select disk 1 and press enter.
  • Type clean. This step starts to clean up all files and folders on the selected hard disk.
  • Type create partition primary and press "Enter".
  • Type format fs=ntfs (or format fs=fat) and press "Enter".
  • Typing assign to assign a drive letter to the newly created partition.

format hard drive Windows 10 from command prompt

All the three ways above can help you format a used hard drive or external hard drive in Windows 10, but if you want to have a long-term and comprehensive solution that can help you manage your disk easily, we highly recommend you try EaseUS Partition Master. After you get to know this product, you will be very satisfied with it.

Download Now

 Windows 10 is supported

How to Recover Data from Formatted Hard Drive

Misformatting hard drive occurs from time to time. Although we know that formatting is not like erasing, which doesn't erase the data on the disk, only the address tables, there is no way to recover data from a formatted hard drive unless resorting to a professional data recovery tool.

Therefore, suppose you accidentally format a disk without a backup and want to recover its data, you can use EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for help. This top-notch file recovery software enables you to quickly and simply restore lost data because of hard drive formatting, emptying recycle bin, partition loss, OS crash, virus attack, and more. It is capable of recovering permanently deleted files at a high recovery rate.

Now, download this robust data recovery program and recover data after formatting hard drive. 

Step 1: Choose the partition

  • Launch EaseUS formatted data recovery software after the installation.
  • Choose the hard drive which you've accidentally formatted.
  • Click "Scan".
select the formatted hard drive and click scan

Step 2: Initiate the scan process

  • Start scanning lost data all over the hard drive.
  • Proceed with the data searching. You'll see more and more data showing up in the scan results.
scan lost data on the formatted hard drive

Step 3: Recover files to a secure location

  • After the scan, browse data in each section, especially in "Lost Partition Files". It's a highlighted feature of EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard for retrieving data from a formatted hard drive partition.
  • Select the data files you wish to recover.
  • Click "Recover". 

Instead of the original hard drive, choose a different location to save the recovered data.

select wanted data and click recover

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Will the "Migrate OS" feature transfer the Windows system files only or the whole C drive?

To ensure that the migrated system will boot normally, the Migrate OS feature will transfer all the files in the system and the boot partitions. Generally, the boot partition is the C drive so the transfer will include all the files in C.

Does EaseUS Partition Master license apply to multiple computers?

The license of Partition Master Professional and Server editions can be used on 1 computer only, while that for for the Technician and Unlimited editions can be used on multiple machines.

What is the difference between EaseUS Partition Master Trial version and the Free version?

Free is for home users only, with most basic functions available such as partition resize and clone. While trial can help you understand how this product works and test what a full license can do on a business or server OS machine.

Will it cause any data loss after resizing the partition in EaseUS Partition Master?

Generally, it will not cause any data loss or boot issue by resizing a partition. However, in order to protect your data, we suggest that you backup the partition before resizing, in case of any unexpected situations such as power outages, computer hardware failures, etc. You can use EaseUS Todo Backup to backup the partition and its trial version is fully functioned for 30 days.

What should I prepare before resizing the partition?

On the partition that is going to be operated, there might be some files being occupied by other programs. To ensure a successful operation, we suggest that you close all the unnecessary software before resizing that partition. Otherwise, EaseUS Partition Master will detect the partition being locked by the other software and require a reboot to resize the partition under boot mode.

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