How to format a hard drive

If you are planning on ditching your old computer, formatting a hard drive is almost always a necessary thing to do

Formatting a disk with without an operating system

If you have a PC with no operating system, then you will have to use a bootable CD, DVD or USB flash drive with a third-party formatting tool on it. It is important to note that the BIOS on a computer cannot format a hard drive. 

A good tool is Darik's Boot and Nuke (DBA), which can be downloaded here. This can erase and format a hard disk so you can go ahead and install a new operating system. DBAN is downloaded as an ISO file, which is a disk image that you would then burn onto a CD or DVD using another computer. 

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If you can't make a bootable CD/DVD, then you can use another tool by the name of Universal USB Installer which can convert an ISO image to run on a bootable USB drive. If you run the Universal USB Installer setup program, follow the instructions to turn your DBAN ISO into a bootable USB. 

To boot from a CD, DVD or USB, you will need to go into your BIOS and change the boot order to change this to boot from the device you want rather than the system's hard drive.

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Once booted up, DBAN will guide you through formatting your hard drive and give you the option of how securely wiped you want the drive to be.

How to format a drive in Windows 

The easiest (and possibly quickest) way to format a disk is from Windows Explorer. Simply press the Windows key and E to bring up an Explorer window, then right-click the disk you wish to format, then from the context-sensitive menu, choose Format.

The Format window defaults to Quick Format, you can uncheck this to make a more thorough job. You can also choose the file system you want on this disc and rename the Volume Label too if desired. If you leave all the settings and click on the Start button, this will format the disk in around a minute.

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