People do not usually have many problems when trying to format a USB flash drive, but when it comes to the computer’s hard drive, things change a lot, since you have partitions and stored data. If the process goes wrong you can lose your personal files, so it is always a good idea to go step by step and in good handwriting.
When it comes to formatting a disk or partition, you also have to consider the format you are going to use. The FAT32 and NTFS formats are the most common in Windows, but they have quite a few differences between them.
Choose the correct format
The FAT32 format was commonly used on PCs in the old days, and it has some notable restrictions. On the one hand, the files cannot be larger than 4GB, and on the other hand, the total size of the partition or hard drive cannot exceed 32GB.
The NTFS format is a more modern format and in addition to not having these limitations, it offers other advantages in terms of data security and is also compatible with other systems such as macOS.
If you have a modern PC, it is best to use the NTFS format.
5 Methods to Format a Hard Drive in Windows 11
Formatting a disk or partition in Windows 11 is quite similar to how you would do it on a PC with a previous version of Windows, such as Windows 10. There are several ways to carry out the process:
- From Windows Explorer itself.
- Using the Windows Disk Management tool.
- Using the Diskpart command.
- Installing a disk management program.
- Connecting the hard drive to another PC.
Before you begin, be careful not to format the drive or partition where Windows is installed. Not only will you delete all the data that you had stored in the Windows folders (desktop, documents, downloads, etc.), you will also lose the operating system and you will have to reinstall it, with all that this entails.
1. Format the hard drive from Windows Explorer
As in previous versions of Windows, with Windows 11, you can also format a partition or disk from the folder explorer.
- Open File Explorer and in the side menu click on “This PC”.
- Right-click on the drive you want to format and select “Format.”
- This will open a window where we can do a quick format, assign a new name to the drive and choose the format (NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT), among other things.
- Finally, click on “Start” to start the formatting process. If you want to perform a deep format just make sure to uncheck the “Quick Format” box before launching the process.
2. Use the disk manager
Another way to format a hard drive in Windows 11 is to use the system disk manager. This is a tool that allows you to perform more complex actions, such as joining two hard drive partitions, deleting or creating new partitions.
The disk manager requires administrator permissions, and in general, we can say that it is a much more delicate tool. Also, keep in mind that the system will not let you format the partition where Windows is installed.
- Press the WIN+R keys and run the command “ diskmgmt.msc ”.
- Within the Windows Disk Management program, right-click on the partition you want to format.
- Choose the formatting options (name, file system) and click on “OK” to start the process.
3. Format the drive using commands
If you’re old school and prefer to format from a terminal window, you can use the Diskpart command to do all the work.
- Open the Windows search engine and type “cmd”. Among the suggestions choose “ Command Prompt -> Run as administrator ”.
- Inside the terminal window run the following commands in order.
- list disk
- select disk X (where “X” is the disk number)
- select partition Y (where “Y” corresponds to the partition number. If the disk only has one partition, the value will be “1”)
- format fs=ntfs quick label=DATA (where “DATA” corresponds to the name we want to give to the new partition)
4. Install a program for disk management
If you don’t want to mess around with delicate commands, you can use a disk administration or management tool. There are many programs developed by third parties to perform this type of task, and the one I usually use is called “ MiniTool Partition Wizard Free ”.
It is free and allows you to format drives in a very comfortable way. It also has other extra paid features, but the free version is more than enough for what you want to do today. Note: If you prefer other alternatives, you can also try other similar free programs like EaseUS Partition Master Free or AOMEI Partition Assistant.
- Open the MiniTool Partition Wizard Free program.
- In the partition window on the right, right-click on the drive to be formatted and select “format”.
- Choose a name for the new partition and click “OK”.
- You will see that now a list of “pending actions” appears in the menu on the left. Click on “Apply” to start the formatting process.
The good thing about this type of program is that it allows you to play a little more with the disks, being able to delete, move or merge partitions in a very comfortable and intuitive way.
5. Connect the hard drive to another PC
If the disk starts having errors, or you want to do a total format to completely reorganize the hard disk, the easiest thing is to remove it and connect it to a second PC.
The simplest thing is to use an enclosure to turn it into an external drive (from SATA to USB) and connect it directly via a USB cable, although you can certainly also disassemble that second PC and insert the hard drive directly into the board.
Once connected, you just have to open the Windows disk manager or use a program like Minitool Partition Wizard to format the disk according to our needs.