How to partition and format a hard disk in WindowsBy Lawrence Abrams on November 18, 2005 | Last Updated: December 13, 2012 | Read 517,588 times.
Table Of Contents
In order to use a hard drive, or a portion of a hard drive, in Windows you need to first partition it and then format it. This process will then assign a drive letter to the partition allowing you to access it in order to use it to store and retrieve data.
If you would like more information on partitions you can read this tutorial:
For this tutorial, my examples will be done from within Windows XP. These techniques will work, though, with Windows 2000, 2003, and the upcoming Vista.
Before you can partition a hard drive in Windows, you must have installed a new unused hard disk, deleted an existing partition, or have some unpartitioned space available on an existing drive. In the example in this tutorial I will take the unused space from one of my hard drives and partition/format it. The steps shown here will work whether you are working with a brand new hard drive, deleting an existing partition and reusing it, or partitioning available space on an existing hard drive.
All hard disk management is done in the Disk Management Administrative Tool. Follow these steps to open this tool:
When you are in the disk management tool you will see a listing of your current hard drives and how they are partitioned. From the image above you can see that I have two hard disks installed. The first disk, Disc 0, has two partitions. One partition is a 24 GB NTFS partition that has been assigned the drive letter C:. The other partition on that drive is a 87 GB NTFS partition that has been assigned the drive letter E:. The other drive, has only one partition, the D: partition. The rest of the space, 26 GB, shows that it is unallocated and therefore can be used to make other partitions.
To make a partition from the unused space you would do the following.
When the computer finishes creating and formatting the new partition you will be presented with the Disk Management screen again and will see that you have a new partition and drive letter on your computer. Now you can use that drive to start storing your data.
If you have existing partitions on your computer that you would like to delete in order to use its space for other purposes, then you first need to delete this partition. It is important to note that by deleting a partition you will lose all your data on that partition. With that warning given, let me give some examples of why you would want to delete a partition. Lets say that you have a 60 GB hard drive in your computer that was originally partitioned into a 20 GB partition and a 40 GB partition. You would like to install another operating system on your computer, but feel that neither partition is big enough on its own, and would like to instead create one partition using the full storage of 60 GB. The only way to do that would be to delete both of the existing partitions and recreate a new one using all the available space.
To delete a partition please follow these steps:
The partition will now be deleted and you can either create a new partition or exit the program.
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