Format a Partitioned Storage Device





Introduction: Format a Partitioned Storage Device

About: If it ain't broken, take it apart and fix it.

When you have a storage device (such as a USB key, an SD card, or a hard drive) that has several partitions, formatting it so that it can only have one main partition isn't always easy. This will show you how to format it on windows so that it can be as good as new.

Step 1: Open Command Prompt

Press simultaneously the windows key and the R key, and the "Run" window will appear. In it, type cmd. This will open up command prompt, which will be used to format your storage device.

Step 2: Open DiskPart

In the command prompt, type diskpart. If a window pops up asking you to grant administrator access, click yes. Diskpart is used to add partitions to storage devices, remove partitions, assign letters, and more. If you want to read more about it, click here.

Step 3: View All Storage Devices Connected

To prevent things from going terribly wrong, remove as many storage devices (except the one you are trying to format) from your computer. Then in command prompt, type list disk. This will show you a list of storage devices connected to your computer.

Step 4: Select Your Storage Device

In the list diskpart shows you, find the storage device you want to format. Look at the size of the volume. For example, if you are formatting an 8GB SD card, look for a volume around that size. In my case, 0 is my internal hard disk, and 1 is my 8GB SD card. Once you have found which number represents your storage device, type select disk #, # representing the number of your device.

Step 5: Remove All Partitions

Now, type clean. This will clear the partition table.

Step 6: Create a Main Partition

Now, you must create a partition to make your storage device usable. To do so, type create partition primary.

Step 7: Format It

To avoid file corruption, format it. Just type format fs=fat32 quick. Your storage device is ready! Just close command prompt and you're ready to go.



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    GParted is much more friendly as it gives a graphical representation if the partitions.

    1 reply

    I try to reduce the use of third-party software wherever I can, and use integrated features instead. But, yes, GParted is visually more appealing.

    hi, thank you for nice info, i just want to ask if you're going to format your hard drive, is it still "format fs=fat32 quick"?. Thank you.

    5 replies

    Yes. It should do, if you are just going to use that hard drive to store files. If it were for more important things, such as install an operating system on it, I would format it as NTFS, and I wouldn't use the quick option. In this case it would be format fs=ntfs.

    No problem!

    Ok.. actually, I have problem with my external hard drive (500GB), it was corrupted by unknown virus from other computer. But fortunately, I have backup files in my laptop, so i decided to just format it. Now, Which is best and why, "format fs=ntfs" or "format fs=ntfs quick"? and how long will it take to format 500Gb external hard drive?Thank you:)

    It all depends. If use the quick one, you may still have a slight chance of corrupting the files on the hard drive, but it will only take a few minutes. If you don't, the probabilities of corrupting your files again are much lower, but the whole formatting process can take hours, as it is rewriting every single bit of data. The choice is really up to you.

    whats the different between right click mouse choose format?

    1 reply

    When you format using the right click, format option, you do not clear the partition table. All it does is remove all files from the primary partition. So for example, if you flashed an operating system on an SD card for a Raspberry Pi, the SD card would be divided into, say, 3 partitions. Your computer would only see the main one, where the config files are placed. However, your computer will display a volume size which is inferior to the the actual volume of the SD card, because that is the size of the partition that the computer is viewing. If you were to format the SD card by right clicking it, and clicking the format option, you will continue to see the reduced volume size, and there will still be files on the SD card, hidden in other partitions. Diskpart removes all partitions, creates a new one, and removes all files.


    Great instructable, would like to see more like it. Cheers.