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How to Format a Hard Drive Using the Command Prompt

Formatting a hard drive or SSD is the same as buying a new hard drive since the process erases all the data in one fell swoop. When you format your hard drive, you can clean internal as well as external storage media.

In this tutorial, we explain how you can format a hard drive using the command prompt. Before proceeding further, make sure you backup all available data to prevent data loss. Follow the steps below to format a drive:

STEP 1:    Open Command Prompt As Administrator

Opening the command prompt.

Search for command prompt, right click and run as Administrator.

STEP 2:    Use Diskpart

Using diskpart

Once command line is open, type 'diskpart' and press Enter.

STEP 3:    Type List Disk

Using list disk

The above command will open a Diskpart window. In this window, type 'list disk' and press Enter. It will list all the available drives.

STEP 4:    Select the Drive to Format

Formatting a drive.

Now type 'select disk (disk number)' as shown above. Specify the drive number which needs to be formatted.

STEP 5:    Clean the Disk

Using the clean function.

In this step, type 'clean'. This command will permanent delete all files and folders, and successfully clean up the disk.

STEP 6:    Create Partition Primary

Creating primary partition.

To make the drive again accessible, type 'create partition primary'.

STEP 7:    Format the Drive

Formatting a drive.

Now format the drive with FAT or NTFS file system. Type 'format fs=ntfs' and press Enter.

STEP 8:    Assign a Drive Letter

Assigning a drive letter.

To assign a drive letter, you can type 'assign' as shown below.


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  • ehmkec
    Am I missing something? Couldn't you just bring up a command prompt and type "format e:" - or some other drive letter?
    Reply
  • tcaster6263
    would be kind of short for a tutorial don't you think?
    Reply
  • polomint
    Or use Computer Management -> Disk Management if you want to remove all partitions on a drive then format it...
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    21240634 said:
    Am I missing something? Couldn't you just bring up a command prompt and type "format e:" - or some other drive letter?

    While I cannot guarantee this article does exactly what it claims it does (I haven't tried it, let alone heard about this way before) I can speak for the way format works now days.

    Drives come pretty much preformatted now days as to its sectors and such. Format just basically wipes the file data/directory/folder content, not the data elsewhere on the drive. It's possible to recover the data with a little work, primarily on the "folders."

    I would hope that this utility, DiskPart, issuing its "clean" command actually does more than clear the data partition info.
    Reply
  • jimmysmitty
    21240861 said:
    21240634 said:
    Am I missing something? Couldn't you just bring up a command prompt and type "format e:" - or some other drive letter?

    While I cannot guarantee this article does exactly what it claims it does (I haven't tried it, let alone heard about this way before) I can speak for the way format works now days.

    Drives come pretty much preformatted now days as to its sectors and such. Format just basically wipes the file data/directory/folder content, not the data elsewhere on the drive. It's possible to recover the data with a little work, primarily on the "folders."

    I would hope that this utility, DiskPart, issuing its "clean" command actually does more than clear the data partition info.

    It doesn't. The only way to truly erase a disk is to have it do a 0 write pass. The more the better too. A single pass wont cover everything up. The DoD has a 7 pass minimum. I prefer the 35 pass called Gutmann method.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    21240634 said:
    Am I missing something? Couldn't you just bring up a command prompt and type "format e:" - or some other drive letter?

    Sure you can say: format e: /fs:NTFS However you would need to use diskpart to create the partition in the first place to already have an "e" drive to format.

    The title really should be how to partition and format a drive.
    Reply
  • shrapnel_indie
    21240932 said:
    21240861 said:
    21240634 said:
    Am I missing something? Couldn't you just bring up a command prompt and type "format e:" - or some other drive letter?

    While I cannot guarantee this article does exactly what it claims it does (I haven't tried it, let alone heard about this way before) I can speak for the way format works now days.

    Drives come pretty much preformatted now days as to its sectors and such. Format just basically wipes the file data/directory/folder content, not the data elsewhere on the drive. It's possible to recover the data with a little work, primarily on the "folders."

    I would hope that this utility, DiskPart, issuing its "clean" command actually does more than clear the data partition info.

    It doesn't. The only way to truly erase a disk is to have it do a 0 write pass. The more the better too. A single pass wont cover everything up. The DoD has a 7 pass minimum. I prefer the 35 pass called Gutmann method.

    That's what I thought. Its faster to just erase/invalidate the partition, create a new partition, and MAYBE verify sectors instead of doing a real format and then verifying.
    Reply
  • USAFRet
    Why you need to do this dictates how you do this.
    Reply
  • jpe1701
    I agree with USAFRET. I've had disk management just not let me format a drive and I had to use diskpart to get it done. Heck I've even used Ubuntu on a bootable drive to do disk management many years ago just because I knew the Linux commands and not the windows.
    Reply
  • stdragon
    It's useful when installing Windows 10 on a used drive. But it's not a secure erase. So long as you know that, then proceed.
    Reply