How To Format a Windows PC/Laptop

By Subodh / August 7, 2014

No matter how expensive or powerful a computer you use, it may be necessary to format the hard drive at some point of time. Formatting can be required for a number of reasons. It can be necessary when a malware invasion makes your system unusable and your antivirus fails to clean it. You may also need to wipe the hard disk when you want to discard it. Installing Windows from scratch can also be necessary when the core files get corrupted.

Basis of Formatting Windows PC

When you format the hard drive entirely or its partitions, the data is wiped out and the drive is also checked for errors. Both magnetic-platter HDDs and newer SSDs can be formatted. Based on the hard disk capacity, formatting can take hours to complete. It can be done using Windows tools or running command prompt.

When you run format on a Windows PC, you get options for quick format and Full Format. Quick format should not be selected when you want to get rid of the data stored on the partition or hard drive. In full format, the drive is checked for existence of bad sectors and it takes longer.

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How To Format A Hard Disc In windows

When you format external or internal hard drive for use, creating partitions is necessary. No one usually keeps a single partition in hard disk nowadays.

Process 1

To start, right click on Computer and then select Manage. It will bring up the Computer Management console. Then click on Disk Management in the left pane. It displays all connected drives in the center window. If a drive is not partitioned, it will have black bars and marked as ‘unallocated’. Partitioned drives, however have blue bars and they have a drive letter assigned.
When you want to format a partition, right click on its blue bar and click on format. You will have to assign a name for this partition. For Windows, NTFS file system should be selected. For external drives to be used with Macs, exFat can be chosen. Leave the allocation unit size to default values. Do not opt for quick format or folder compression. Then click on Ok to let the formatting operation run.

Process 2

In Windows Explorer, you can right click on a partition and select format. You can opt for quick format and change volume name. In this mode, you cannot format primary partition.

Process 3

Seasoned users can also use the command prompt to format a hard disk partition in Windows. You need to have administrator privileges to perform this.

How To Format A Hard Disk For Fresh Windows Installation

It becomes necessary to format the primary partition of your Windows PC’s hard disk at times and perform a fresh Windows installation. You will need a bootable Windows CD/DVD or a restore disc that you were given when buying the PC. Many third party utilities also let you make a Windows bootable CD. For Windows 7 and subsequent versions, using a USB drive to boot into pre install state is possible. You need to check with the manufacturer of your laptop or desktop and scrape through the documentation if available.

At first, you need to insert the bootable CD/DVD or Windows restore disc in the optical drive of your computer. Restart the PC and get into the BIOS. Ensure boot from optical media is selected or if you use a USB stick, select boot from USB drive. This will make sure the PC boots from the disc.

Next, you need to follow the prompts given by the restore disc. If you are using an installation disc for Windows 7, it will be necessary to select a language and input method. Then you will have to accept Windows license terms. After that, select the advanced or custom installation procedure.

The Windows installation process will prompt you to delete the HDD partition or you can make new partitions from unallocated space. This is required for a clean install.

Then, you will have to select Format. Once formatting the partitions is complete, Windows installation will initiate. If Windows prompts you to create a small partition for system reserved space, accept it. The setup may get completed in 30 minutes or a little more.

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