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Reformatting a hard drive? Answered

Hi there. I know most of you reading this are thinking of the simple process that is reformatting a hard drive, and are prepared to offer me an obvious and somewhat novice explanation as "right click > format...". Please don't, this is not the case.

I recently acquired an external hard drive previously used as a Direct TV Dvr. The hardware and everything is fine, and my computer recognizes it as a USB Mass Storage Device. However, the disk itself is in a format my Windows-based computer cannot recognize, read, or understand, and - as a result - does not acknowledge it exists. I need to figure out how to reformat this to NTFS / FAT32 to use on a windows machine.

Also note, as a result of the lack of recognition of the disk, I can only guess its drive letter. CMD does not recognize it at all - I have tried mounting disks E - Z with no result.

If needed, I have access to a Macintosh, but that is preferably the last resort as it resides about an hour away from where I am currently.



Best Answer 9 years ago

Right click My Computer>Manage
Go to disk management, and plug in your HDD, then it should pop up in the list at the bottom of hard drives and their partions, allocations, etc.
when it does, right click and format :)
Hope this helps!


8 years ago

You can also download and utilize a program called Swiss Knife to format it to fat32 format.


9 years ago

Haven't tried scavenging the DirectTV hardware, so I'm guessing from basic principles. But...

Start by using a _partitioning_ tool; the existing partition layout may not be of a type your system will recognize, and you may have to do a very low-level reformat. Depending on what the USB controller will and won't let you do, you may have to attach the drive directly to a hardwired disk controller... which may mean finding a desktop or tower machine rather than a laptop.

That's assuming that the drive is, in fact, good. The fact that it's showing up as a USB device only means the USB-attached controller circuit is responding to the computer, not that it's successfully controlling the disk.


9 years ago

Simple solution: Download Puppylinux, Ubuntu, Backtrack, or some other CD bootable Linux distro. Put the CD in, then boot the computer. Then simply format the drive to fat32 using a formatting tool.

Your PVR is probably is running a Linux kernel, in that case a Windows or Mac won't read that file system... In a trimmed up version:

Windows only reads:

Windows File Systems

Macs read:
Mac File Systems
Windows File Systems

Linux Distros read: