Do you expect this drive to be blank? Or have you already written data to it. You do NOT want to reformat it as an NTFS-formattted partition.
Second, for clarity, I'm going to interpret "installed a Maxtor external drive in my laptop" as meaning "I plugged the cable from the external drive into the USB port on my laptop." If this is a wrong interpretation, please clarify and ignore the rest of this post.
If there should already be data on it and you want to see that data ever again, stop at the end of this paragraph. Plug the drive into some other computer and let us know if that machine can see the data. Try another USB drive. Let us know what these showed.
If it's a brand-spanking-new drive that came as an external drive it should have been formatted in the first place, and I would be curious to see what Disk Manager has to say is on it. Disk Manager is described briefly in this guide http://www.tomshardware.com/forum/265764-32-guide-insta... (don't do any of the steps that change the drive yet, just look at step five as long as seeing the display, and let us know what's on it.
The reason for so much checking before formatting it is that we want to rule out wiping out your data, and find out if it is a bad drive so that you won't trust data to a bad drive. It would be really easy to answer your question with all of step 5 above on partitioning and formatting, but I'm trying to make sure that this is safe in your situation.