Useful Tips

Correct hard disk formatting


When installing the operating system, as well as when changing files, redistributing space between partitions, you must format the hard drive. This is a fairly common operation performed by PC users. If you have not done anything like this, then let's figure out the theoretical part of the question.

Formatting process, what is it?

The marking of information storage areas, in which some part of it is deleted, is called formatting. It creates a system of access to stored information.

Typically run for:

  • Changes from one file system to another
  • delete files from your hard drive.

At the moment, there are a large number of different file systems. They are used on various equipment, including not only computers, but also mobile devices. The latest versions of Windows use the NTFS file system.

Why format a hard drive?

Formatting is performed to delete files from the hard drive, as well as to change one file system to another.

Photo: hard drive

In most cases, they resort to it:

  • before installing a new operating system,
  • to create a Windows installation image, for example, on a USB flash drive,
  • due to the need to clean the disk from files, in case they are not needed.

Formatting with Windows Tools

Despite the large number of various programs for working with a hard disk, the Windows operating system has its own set of utilities.

Consider the process of formatting disks using Windows:

  1. select the disk you want to format,
  2. press the right mouse button
  3. select Format
  4. in the window that appears, select the file system, cluster size, and also the formatting method,
  5. NTFS is recommended as the file system, and the default cluster size is 4096,
  6. After setting the necessary parameters, click Start.

Photo: Choose a formatting method

Windows also includes a more complete service for working with hard drives.

In order to open this menu, do the following:

  1. right click on My Computer,
  2. select Management,
  3. open Disk Management,
  4. in this menu, the user can perform various operations with the hard disk including formatting.

Photo: Disk Management

Formatting via the command line

You can also perform this operation using the command line:

  • press the key combination Win + R,
  • enter cmd and press Enter,
  • at the command line we write the command format y :, where y is the letter of your disk, maybe, for example, c or d,
  • the system will ask you to confirm the operation by pressing the Y key,
  • after confirmation, the system will begin the formatting process,
  • upon completion, this message will appear

Photo: message box

Photo: command line window

Formatting HDD in BIOS

If you need to format the hard disk partition from the BIOS, you will have to tinker a bit. Unfortunately, the BIOS does not have tools for formatting the hard disk, therefore, you should use third-party programs to perform these operations.

One of the most common is Acronis Disk Director. To work with it, it is necessary in the operating system to create bootable media with the files of this program. But before you start creating bootable media, you should consider another option - formatting using the Windows installer. This solution is a simpler option than Acronis Disk Director.

Photo: Launch Acronis Disk Director

For this method, you only need a disk or flash drive with a recorded installation package of the operating system.

To format, you must perform the following steps:

  • start installing Windows from your media,
  • when loading the menu with the choice of language, press the key combination Shift and F10,
  • you will see the familiar command line, with which you can format disk partitions using format z: / FS: NTFS commands, where z is your disk and NTFS is the file system.

Photo: admin window

Attention! Drive letters may not match. For more precise determination of the required disk, use the wmic logicaldisk get deviceid, volumename, size, description command.

Creating a bootable Acronis Disk Director flash drive

To create a bootable flash drive you will need:

  • flash drive,
  • Acronis Disc Director.

Photo: Acronis window

Algorithm of actions:

  1. insert the flash drive
  2. install and open the program,
  3. in the application, open the Tools section and select the Acronis Bootable Media Builder,
  4. click next
  5. select the type of bootable media Windows PE,
  6. in the next menu, you should note the necessary components for recording on a USB flash drive,
  7. after selection, you need to select the media to be recorded on and click Next. The flash drive should be formatted in FAT 32 format using the Windows utility,
  8. You can also create an image for later recording to a flash device or disc using Ultra ISO.

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Working with the Acronis Disk Director bootable USB flash drive

To download a flash drive, you must:

  1. enter the BIOS and select read priority for your flash device,
  2. after loading the program image, select Acronis Disk Director,
  3. In this menu, you can perform various operations with your hard disk, including formatting, as well as reallocation of memory,
  4. after determining all the actions, click the Run button to start the execution of the selected operations.

Photo: loading started

How to format external hard drive in NTFS

The most convenient formatting method is to perform all actions using standard utilities of the operating system. This solution does not involve the installation of additional programs and the creation of additional boot disks.

If you do not have an operating system installed, then in this case you should use special programs, such as Acronis.

Actions that describe how to format a hard disk as ntfs:

  • right-click on the disk,
  • select Format

Photo: Format tab

In addition to the standard Windows program, there are various utilities used for the same purpose.

Of the most common options, the following can be noted:

  • Acronis Disk Director,
  • HDD Low Level Format Tool,

Photo: HDD Low Level Format Tool window

Photo: Partition Manager

Photo: Paragon Hard Disk Manager Features

Which program in ntfs is best to format drives?

Each program has its own characteristics, but the main direction for all utilities remains one - working with disks, including creating partitions, creating other file systems, etc. Therefore, choosing a program is a strictly personal question for each user, which depends on his preferences .

Photo: formatting window

Formatting problems and solutions

How to quickly format a disk without data loss?

Unfortunately this is not possible. All stored information will be deleted. Only part of the data can be restored.

Which drive is better: external or external?

Formatting external drives is the same as for a regular hard drive. In this process, all information, including windows, will be deleted, after execution the disk turns out like a new one without windows.

Photo: external hard drive

Unable to format hard drive

If you did everything according to the instructions, but did not achieve a result, do not sound the alarm. It doesn’t always mean something bad.

We recommend, first of all, to remove the human factor and pay attention to the following:

  • format command - cannot be used for a system disk if it is in its environment,
  • if the operating system is located in another section of the hard drive, it cannot be deleted,
  • anti-virus program settings may block access to different sections of the hard drive,
  • different applications and viruses can block access.

If you removed the above factors, but you can’t format the hard drive, you will have to resort to special programs. The most popular tool is HDDscan, easy to install, and also free.

Photo: HDDscan tool

Algorithm of actions:

  • download utility
  • open and install
  • run as administrator
  • click on the icon in the form of a sphere located in the center of the interface,
  • select Surface tests,
  • check the box next to Erase,
  • go to the Add test tab,
  • click on Scan,
  • in the lower right corner, write down the error data,
  • set the EraseWAITs option to ON and select Scan again,
  • repeat until the error is cleared.

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You can also use Acronis Disk Director. If it is not possible to format a portable hard drive using this program, most likely the hard drive has partially failed. And the whole procedure, sometimes it is possible to execute, only from bootable media, that is, not in the operating system.

How to force a flash drive?

You can use the program to format flash drives HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool.

Photo: USB flash drive formatting tool

How to format a write-protected drive?

  • open command prompt
  • register the following commands:
  1. diskpart
  2. list disk,
  3. select disk Z. Z - flash drive number, the execution of the previous command is shown,
  4. attributes disk clear readonly,
  5. clean,
  6. create partition primary,
  7. format fs = ntfs,
  8. exit.

The operating system includes utilities that:

  • provide the necessary set of functions,
  • have a fairly simple interface, which will be easy for beginners to work with.

For more experienced users it is recommended to use the program Acronis disk director, which provides a wider range of functions.

Why formatting

Formatting the HDD is required for several reasons:

  • Creating basic markup for further work with the hard drive. It is performed after the first connection of a new HDD to a PC, otherwise it simply will not be visible among local disks.
  • Clearing of all saved files. Over the years, a computer or laptop on the hard drive has accumulated a huge amount of unnecessary data. These are not only user-defined, but also system files that are no longer needed, but are not deleted on their own.

As a result, drive overflow, unstable and slow operation may occur. The easiest way to get rid of garbage is to save the necessary files to the cloud storage or to a USB flash drive and format the hard drive. This is in some way a radical method for optimizing the operation of the HDD.

  • Complete reinstallation of the operating system. For a better and cleaner OS installation, it is best to use a blank disk.
  • Error correction. Fatal viruses and malware, damaged blocks and sectors, and other problems with the hard drive are often fixed by creating a new layout.
  • Types and types of formatting

    This procedure is divided into 2 types:

    1. Low level. The term "low-level formatting" originally meant a slightly different process, and was adapted for users. In the usual sense, this is a complete and irrevocable erasing of information, as a result of which all disk space is freed. If damaged sectors were found in the process, they are marked as unused in order to further eliminate problems with writing and reading data.

    On older computers, the Low Level Format feature was available directly in the BIOS. Now, in view of the more complex structure of modern HDDs, this feature is not available in BIOS, and the present low-level formatting is done once - during production at the factory.

  • High level. This method is in fact the only available among users. During this process, the file system and file tables are formed. After that, the HDD becomes available for data storage. Formatting at a high level is performed after partitioning, data on the location of all files recorded on the hard drive are erased. After it, you can completely or partially restore the data, in contrast to the low level, where there is a complete overwriting of information.
  • In addition, there are two types that are used to format the internal and external HDD:

      Fast. It doesn’t take much time, because the whole process comes down to overwriting the file location data. At the same time, the files themselves do not disappear anywhere and will be overwritten with new information - as a result of the operation, an empty space is designated where new files can be written in the future, “crowding out” the old ones. The structure is not optimized, and if there are problems, then they are skipped and not fixed. However, such a process usually takes up to 1 minute, depending on the volume, and data can be restored using special software partially or completely.

  • Complete. All information is completely deleted from the hard drive - sectors are overwritten with zeros, along with this the file system is checked for various errors, bad sectors are fixed (more precisely, they are marked as unsuitable for further information storage). All this requires much more time, up to several hours. However, this way your information will be safely deleted, and then it will not be possible to recover it even with special programs.
  • SSD formatting

    Now more and more often, users began to purchase laptops with built-in SSD-drives, as well as buy these devices separately and replace them with obsolete morally, or physically, hard drives. The principle of operation of these data custodians is significantly different from each other, since in hardware they represent two different components, in fact performing the same function. We will not dwell on this topic in detail, for general purposes we suggest reading our separate material.

    Due to the dissimilarity of a magnetic disk with a solid-state drive, the question of formatting the latter remains open. To find out whether this procedure is necessary and if so, how to do it, read the article at the link below.

    Method 1: Use Formatting Software

    There are both small utilities and powerful programs that perform additional tasks besides the main one, for example, breaking down the hard drive and checking for errors. To format partitions with the OS, you will need to create a bootable USB flash drive with the program installed.

    Option 1: Acronis Disk Director

    One of the most famous utilities that works with physical disks and their partitions. Acronis Disk Director is paid, but very powerful because it has many features and functions. Allows you to format hard drive, changing the file system, cluster size and volume label. The interface resembles a regular Windows program Disk Management, and the principle of operation, respectively, is similar.

      To format, click on the desired drive in the lower part of the window, after which a list of all available actions with it will be displayed on the left.

    Select item "Format".

    Leave or change the values ​​if necessary. Usually it’s enough to add a volume label (the name of the disk in Windows Explorer). Click "OK".

    The scheduled task will be created and the button with the flag will change the name to “Apply scheduled operations (1)”. Click on it and select "Continue".

    Option 2: MiniTool Partition Wizard

    Unlike Acronis Disk Director, this solution is free, so it has slightly more modest functionality. The process is almost identical, and the program will perfectly cope with the task. MiniTool Partition Wizard also knows how to change the label, cluster size and file system type. Our site already has a detailed lesson on formatting this program.

    Option 3: HDD Low Level Format Tool

    Another popular and free program that can format different drives. HDD Low Level Format Tool can do the so-called “low-level formatting”, which actually means just full formatting (for more details, why it is not low-level, read above), and also performs a quick version of this operation. Instructions for working with this program are also available on our website.

    Method 2: Formatting in Windows

    The easiest option, which is suitable for any drives where your OS is not installed. This may be the partition of the hard drive that you divided into parts, the second drive connected to the system unit, or an external HDD.

      Go to "My computer", select the disk you want to format, right-click on it and select "Format".

    A window will open in which it is best not to change the parameters, but you can uncheck the option "Quick formatting"if you want the data to be completely deleted and bad sectors to be fixed in parallel (this will take more time).

    Method 3: Via BIOS and command line

    To format the HDD in this way, you need a bootable USB flash drive with a recorded OS. All data, including Windows, will be deleted, so if you need to format the drive with the installed OS, this procedure will not be possible in the previous way.

    Когда все необходимое было подготовлено, выполните следующие действия:

    1. Подключите флешку к компьютеру.
    2. Перезагрузите ПК и зайдите в BIOS. Для этого после старта нажмите клавишу входа — обычно это одна из них: F2, DEL, F12, F8, Esc or Ctrl+F2 (конкретная клавиша зависит от вашей конфигурации).

    При помощи клавиатуры измените устройство, с которого компьютер будет загружаться. Для этого зайдите в раздел «Boot» и списке устройств загрузки на первое место («1st Boot Priority» либо «First Boot Priority») поставьте вашу флешку.

    Если интерфейс BIOS как на скриншоте ниже, зайдите «Advanced BIOS Features»/"BIOS Features Setup" and select "First Boot Device".

    Please note that due to differences in BIOS versions, the names of menu items may be different. If your BIOS does not have the specified option, look for the most suitable name.

    In the settings window, select "Command line".

    In Windows 8/10, also select "System Restore".

    Then press the buttons in sequence "Diagnostics" > "Troubleshooting" > "Command line".

    Identify the drive to be formatted. The fact is that when you start a PC from a bootable USB flash drive, the drive letters may differ from what you are used to seeing in Windows, so first you need to find out the real letter of that hard drive. To do this, write the following command on the command line:

    wmic logicaldisk get deviceid, volumename, size, description

    It is easiest to determine the HDD by its volume - it is indicated in bytes.

    After the letter has been identified, in "Command line" write it (instead of X use the letter HDD):

    format / FS: NTFS X: / q - with changing the file system to NTFS,
    format / FS: FAT32 X: / q - with changing the file system to FAT32,
    either just
    format X: / q - quick formatting without changing the file system.

    All modern hard drives use NTFS. Only for very old PCs with minimal storage volumes and completely irrelevant operating systems will FAT32 be suitable.

    Confirm the command entry on Enter. You can assign a volume label (disk name in Windows Explorer) by adding the parameter at the end / v: IMYA DISKA.

    Method 4: Formatting before installing the OS

    For the correct installation of a new version of the operating system, formatting is necessary. To complete it, repeat steps 1-5 of the previous method.

    If you are upgrading with saving user data, and do not plan to complete the installation, formatting is not necessary!

    1. On Windows 7, start the installation by selecting the type of installation "Complete installation".

    In Windows 8/10 you need to do all the same steps as in Windows 7, however, before you get to the choice of drive to install, you will need to do a few more steps - specify the product key (or skip this step), select x64 / x86 architecture, agree to the terms of the license, select the option Custom: Installing Windows Only.

    In the window with the choice of partitions, select the desired HDD, focusing on its size (look at the number of the disk - 0, 1, etc., and not at its partition), and click on the button "Disk Setup".

    Among additional functions click on "Format".

  • In the confirmation pop-up window, click on "OK" and wait for the process to complete. After that, you can continue to install the system.
  • Now you know what formatting is, how it happens, and how it can be done. The method depends on which drive you want to format and which conditions are available for this. For simple and quick formatting, the built-in Windows utility is enough, which can be launched through Explorer. If it is not possible to boot into Windows (for example, due to viruses), a formatting method through the BIOS and "Command line". And if you are going to reinstall the operating system, formatting can be done through the Windows installer. Using third-party utilities, for example, Acronis Disk Director makes sense only if you additionally perform other manipulations with hard drives and this program is already installed on your PC. The rest is a matter of taste - use a standard tool from Windows or a program from another manufacturer.

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    Formatting a non-system hard drive or partition

    These methods practically do not differ from flash drive formatting. It can be done only on those hard drives that do not have system files (usually D or E).

    Do not worry about formatting the system drive. In such ways, this will not work. You will see a warning that the action is not possible.

    Open my computer (conductor) In it, select the drive, open the context menu and select the formatting.

    In the window that appears, leave it as it is (you can remove the quick way, but then you have to wait a very long time).

    The process will take a long time (depends on volume) You might think that nothing is happening and the computer just freezes. But in most cases this is not so.

    The same thing can be done in the disk management window. Use this method if for some reason the first one did not work.

    Go to Start >> All Programs >> Administrative Tools >> Computer Management.

    In the window that appears, select the hard drive and in the "Format" context menu as in the image below.

    There is one more way on the command line. Administrator rights required.

    Go to Start >> Run (or Win + R) to open the execution line. Then go to the team.

    In it, enter the command:

    Clarification: E Is the letter of the hard drive. NTFS - file system. Q - quick formatting.

    Formatting the system drive

    When you try to format a hard drive with the system above, you will see the error, which is shown below.

    Why is this happening? Everything is simple. Windows cannot format itself. This will lead to system inoperability and an error provides protection against this.

    In addition, even if Windows was installed on another hard drive, the system files needed to start the OS can be stored on a local one. In this case, the check in the BIOS will start from it (C).

    It turns out that this is only necessary with the future installation of a new system. Otherwise, you just make the computer go down. Before this, you need to prepare a little.

    You will need a bootable USB flash drive or other media with the operating system that you plan to install. This method works on any version. I will demonstrate it on Windows 8.

    Prioritize boot from a flash drive by first entering the BIOS. First you need to find out his letter. It may differ from “C:” and therefore check this beforehand. Now I will show how to do this right during installation.

    Press Shift + F10. On other versions of operating systems, this keyboard shortcut also works.

    A command prompt window should appear. In it, enter the notepad command, which will open notepad. From it further it will be possible to look at the necessary information.

    The notepad program opens. In it, go to File >> Open or press CTRL + O.

    Explorer opens. Go to the tab "This computer" and see the letter of the drive you want to format. In my case, D. It is designated as local.

    Now go back to the command line and enter the command:

    Where / FS: NTFS - file system. D: - drive letter. / q - quick formatting.

    You can also use the utility directly during the installation process and not use the command line.

    Select a language, click on the install button and in the window where you need to select a section for installation you need to select formatting. See how it looks in the image.

    It can also be done using any (nearly) LiveCD. This is the medium from which the system boots instead of booting from the hard drive. You can format directly in Windows Explorer similarly to methods with non-system hard drives. This is possible due to the fact that most of the data is in RAM and this does not prevent the computer from starting up.

    There are also many programs, but they are paid and their use will be unnecessary for such tasks. This information should be sufficient.

    If something was not clear to you, then watch this video. It clearly shows all the actions with detailed comments and you will have no questions.