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Reormat External Hard Drive in Windows 11 | Top 6 Ways

If you don't know how to format an external hard drive on Windows 11/10, you've come to the right place. Here, you learn how to format an external hard drive in Windows 11/10 by using Disk Management, EaseUS partition manager, File Explorer, and Diskpart in the command prompt.

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Updated by

Tracy King

Written by

Jean

Updated on Apr 18, 2024

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 essential before you start using a new 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 an external hard drive on your own now in this powerful guide provided by EaseUS.

Format external hard drive on Windows 11 theme

You May Also Like: How to Format/Reformat A Hard Drive

Notice:
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. 

How to Format New External Hard Drive Windows 11

  • 🎯Applies to: Format brand new 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 Master or Disk Management.

If you have a new external hard drive, you'll need to initialize it and create a new partition before you can format it. The reason is that a new drive doesn't have a partition, so it won't appear in File Explorer.

Insert or connect your new external hard drive to the computer, learn how to initialize and format it in Windows 11/10 with the following provided methods now: 

Method 1. Format a New External Hard Drive Using EaseUS Partition Master 🏆

  • ✔️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 external hard drive usable, we suggest you try EaseUS Partition Master.

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It's efficient and easy. You can start to format your own new hard drive now:

First. Initialize New Hard Drive

Step 1. Open EaseUS Partition Master and got to Partition Manager.

Step 2. Right-click the target disk - HDD or SSD and select "Initialize to MBR" or "Initialize to GPT". Click "Execute Task" and "Apply" to save the changes.

0:00-0:18 Initialize to MBR; 0:19-0:44 Initialize to GPT;

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.

Method 2. Format New External Hard Drive on Windows 11/10 Using Disk Management

  • ✔️Best for: Experienced Windows users
  • 👍🏻Advantages: Free

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".

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. 

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. 

format a new hard drive windows 10

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. 

How to Format Used External Hard Drive Windows 11

  • 🎯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 Master, Disk Management, File Explorer, DiskPart.

If you have 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:

Method 1. Using EaseUS Partition Master

  • ✔️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 formatting disk partitions, extending system partitions, settling low disk space problems, converting MBR to GPT without data loss, and vice versa.

Its Format feature can even works when you are unable to finish the Windows 11/10 disk formatting job or can't format external hard drive with other Windows formatting tools.

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Step-by-step Guide to Format Old/Used External HDD in Windows 11/10

Step 1. Launch EaseUS Partition Master, right-click the partition on your external hard drive/USB/SD card which you want to format and choose the "Format" option.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 1

Step 2. Assign a new partition label, file system (NTFS/FAT32/EXT2/EXT3/EXT4/exFAT), and cluster size to the selected partition, then click "OK".

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 2

Step 3. In the Warning window, click "Yes" to continue.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 3

Step 4. Click the "Execute 1 Task(s)" button in the top-left corner to review the changes, then click "Apply" to start formatting your external hard drive/USB/SD card.

Format External Hard Drive/USB/SD Card - 4

You May Get Another Hard Drive for formatting:

Method 2. Using File Explorer

  • ✔️Best for: Windows beginners
  • 👍🏻Advantages: Free

Another easy way is to use Windows File Explorer to format a working hard drive or external hard drive on your Windows PC. Here, we'll take formatting an external hard drive as an example to show you the formatting process. Here are the steps:

  1. 1. Connect your external hard drive to a Windows PC and open Windows File Explorer.
  2. 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.
  3. 2. Right-click the external hard drive and select "Format".
  4. 3. Select a desired file system format - NTFS for your device.
  5. 4. Check "Quick Format" and click "Start".
  6. 5. click "OK" to confirm and finish the formatting.

format SD card using file explorer

If you have several partitions created on your external hard drive, repeat the whole process till you clean all the partitions.

Method 3. Using Windows Disk Management

  • ✔️Best for: Experienced Windows users
  • 👍🏻Advantages: Free

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 external 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".

format hard drive windows 10

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.

Method 4. Using Diskpart

  • ✔️Best for: Experienced users & administrators 
  • 👍🏻Advantages: Free

Unlike Disk Management and File Explorer, DiskPart Command Prompt does more than merely format disks. 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, replace 2 with the disk number of your external hard drive) 
  • list volume
  • select volume + volume number
  • format fs=ntfs 

format sd card usign CMD

Repeat the process till you have formatted all exiting volumes on your external 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. 

Method 4. Using Windows Settings

Follow the on-screen instructions to format the hard drive via Windows Settings:

Step 1. Navigate to Settings > System > Storage > Advanced storage settings > Disks & volumes.

Step 2. Select and right-click the external hard drive you wish to format to open Properties.

Step 3. Open the Format tab, name the drive, choose a file system, check the Perform a quick format checkbox, and click Format.

If you are not familiar with the differences between quick format and full format, you can check this out:

Why Need to Format Hard Drive Windows 11?

People might need to format an 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 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. This is why we provided you with all the complete tutorials above to format a new or used external hard drive in Windows 11/10. 

To accomplish the task, you may choose any method that you like the most, such as Windows Disk Management, Windows File Explorer, Windows DiskPart, and even a third-party partition manager, etc., for help. 

Conclusion

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. 

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Format External Hard Drive Windows 11/10 FAQs

We collected some top concerned questions and listed answers here. If you have the same questions about external hard drive formatting in Windows 11/10, check the following FAQs.

1. Can I force to format an external hard drive?

When you receive this error message - Windows Was Unable to Complete the Format, you can't format a hard drive in using Disk Management or file explorer. In this case, it could be device locked, file system unsupported, or device contain unknown error.

Given these issues, EaseUS Partition Master can provide you with a shot. It can directly resolve your issue with its Format feature.

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 external hard drive to FAT32?

According to some game players, sometimes, they need to format 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 external hard drive to FAT32 now. 

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About the Author

Updated by Tracy King

Tracy became a member of the EaseUS content team in 2013. Being a technical writer for over 10 years, she is enthusiastic about sharing tips to assist readers in resolving complex issues in disk management, file transfer, PC & Mac performance optimization, etc., like an expert.

Read full bio

Written by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

Read full bio

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  • It won't hot image your drives or align them, but since it's coupled with a partition manager, it allows you do perform many tasks at once, instead of just cloning drives. You can move partitions around, resize them, defragment, and more, along with the other tools you'd expect from a cloning tool.

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