Formatting means to prepare a hard drive or disk for reading and writing. When you format, the operating system wipes all information on the disk and then tests it to make sure it's reliable. Here's how to format a hard drive using Windows XP.
Go to Control Panel and then Administrative Tools
Go to Computer Management Shortcut
Select Disk Management (local)
A visual of your hard drives should appear (below). More than one line indicates a different drive.
- Each box on a line is a partition on the drive. (Partitions are separations of space on a drive and unless you specifically require multiple partitions, you will only want one partition per drive).
Delete any existing partitions on the drive you are going to format by right clicking on the partition box and clicking Delete Partition
- If there's multiple partitions make sure you have saved everything off them as they might each have different drive letters
- Repeat the above step for the partitions you want to format (you can do one partition without deleting the others)
- The box for the drive to be formatted should now have a black bar at the top of it and should say Unallocated under its size
- Right click on the box and select New Partition and the New Partition Wizard should pop up
- Click Next in the New Partition Wizard
- On the next page make sure Primary Partition is selected and click Next. Now make the size equal to the maximum (it should already be set to it). Click Next.
- On the next page the computer will choose the first available drive letter for the new drive by default (but you can choose another drive letter from the drop-down menu, and click next)
- When the Wizard asks if you want to format the new partition and what format choose NTFS (it's faster and more secure).
- Leave the Allocation unit size as Default
- In the Volume label enter the name you want the drive to have
- If the drive is new and has never been used before check the Perform a quick format box. If the drive has been used before leave this box unchecked.
- Leave the Enable file and folder compression box unchecked and click Next
- On the next page click Finish
The wizard will spend some time formatting the drive (it will take longer on old or large drives). Don't close the Computer Management window until the process has finished. When it has finished it will tell you it has stopped Formatting and is now Healthy.