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Most new external hard drives available in the market are designed to be plug and play. By plug and play, what I mean is that you can just plug in the hard drive and start using it right away. This is because the manufacturers send the disk initialised and ready to work with the most common operating systems.

The internal hard disks available in the market, on the other hand, require to be prepared before use. By preparing a hard drive, I mean that the hard drive needs to be formatted. And no, it isn’t as tough as it sounds.

So, how do you format a nwe internal hard drive and make the hard drive useable by your operating system? The answer depends on which operating system you are using. I use both Windows XP and Linux for my work and I will be explaining the steps needed to format new disks under both these operating systems.

Of course, I’m assuming that you have already attached your disk to your computer and the computer is able to boot up with the older hard disk.

So, once you’ve logged into the administrator account under Windows XP, what you need to do is right click on the “My computer” icon and click on Manage.

how to format internal hard drive

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This should open the Computer Management tool. Now to view the newly attached disk go to the Disk Management service.

format a new hard drive

As soon as you click on disk management, a wizard should pop up which will help you to initialize your new disk. At this point, you can just let the wizard do its job and when its done, you should be able to see your new disk in an unallocated state.This does not mean that the disk is bad, but it means that you have successfuly completed the first part of the process and can proceed to the second part.

This is where you need to create a partition, and give your new disk a drive name, like c:, d: etc, so that you can use it under Windows.

formatting hard drive windows

The new partition wizard will take you through a series of steps and let you specify the size of the partition (if you don’t want the whole disk to be allocated to a single drive), the drive letter and the file system type. In almost all cases, you can simply chose the default options and let the wizard work its magic.

In the end, you should have a shiny new drive available for storing your MP3 collection important documents.

In case you are using Linux then the process is a little more involved. I’m assuming that you are familiar with the Linux command prompt as most of these steps have to be performed on the command prompt. So, login as root and fire up the command prompt application before starting.

You will have to first use the fdisk command to find the name of the newly attached drive and then use the same command to create a partition on the disk.

As you can see, the “fdisk -l” command lists two drives attached to the system, /dev/sda and /dev/sdb.

The /dev/sda drive has a Linux partition and is your main operating system drive. So, the newly attached drive is /dev/sdb and it doesn’t have any partitions on it, yet. To create a new partition on the drive, use the interactive form of the fdisk command.

[root@localhost ~]# fdisk /dev/sdb
Device contains neither a valid DOS partition table, nor Sun, SGI or OSF disklabel
Building a new DOS disklabel. Changes will remain in memory only,
until you decide to write them. After that, of course, the previous
content won’t be recoverable.

Warning: invalid flag 0x0000 of partition table 4 will be corrected by w(rite)

Command (m for help): n
Command action
e   extended
p   primary partition (1-4)
Partition number (1-4): 1
First cylinder (1-100, default 1):
Using default value 1
Last cylinder or +size or +sizeM or +sizeK (1-100, default 100):
Using default value 100

Command (m for help): w
The partition table has been altered!

Calling ioctl() to re-read partition table.
Syncing disks.
[root@localhost ~]#

Now, to format this partition, use the mkfs command on partition number 1 of /dev/sdb that we created above.

mkfs -t ext3 /dev/sdb1

That should be enough to make the new drive visible to your operating system and you should be able to mount and use the drive.

mount -t ext3 /dev/sdb /mount_point

So, as you you don’t have to be a computer genuis to format an internal hard drive. It is not as complicated as it sounds and you all can do it. If you guys have any more questions, please let us know in the comments and we’ll be glad to help.

  1. walter carroll
    November 2, 2016 at 8:04 pm

    I have a failed 1.5TB hard drive with about 900MB of data on it. I’m pretty certain that my data is intact and that the problem is ‘sector migration’ where the sectors have simply migrated beyond the drive’s error correction limits. Do you know of any simple way that I might be able to get my data to copy or migrate onto another drive in such a way that it would then be readable? Because the drive is currently not recognizable (except occasionally briefly) that is preventing me from transferring files. My thanks for any help you can provide.

  2. Stu953
    November 13, 2009 at 12:57 am

    Connected NEW hard drive in notebook. Dell XP PRO re-installation disk spins but all I see is a flashing cursor. downloaded XP start up 6 disk set, but disk 6 crashes with Stop: 0x00007b .

    Is there a simple or easy way to format this HD? or a program that I can download, or a way of getting the re-installation disk to work? . HELP, PLEASE

  3. Allan
    November 6, 2009 at 8:43 pm

    thanks for the article, this helped me out!

  4. khingcat
    November 3, 2009 at 11:07 pm

    Hi, I just bought a new SATA hard drive,I've installed it on my PC. How to format this new drive? I've run Disc Management but it told me that this drive is unallocated (Not Initialized). What I have to do now to make my new hard drive to work? My OS is Windows XP Professional SP2.

    • Sharninder
      November 6, 2009 at 9:10 pm

      right click the new drive's icon and initialise it. Does that work for you ?

    • khingcat
      November 7, 2009 at 12:06 pm

      I've tried that way, too, but that didn't worked. I've found how to format my drive, I change my SATA cable no1 to my new hard drive, and I let my old hard drive not connected. When I insert Windows XP installer, it was recognized and I do the installation as usual. After all installation process done, I connect my old hard drive to SATA port no.2 and now my PC boot from new hard drive. But now I found something strange and a little disturbing me, my partition where I put all program not labeled C but E. Can anybody help me how to change it to C? Because label C has been used for removable drive slot on my printer (my printer has USB slot for UFD, HP Photosmart D5160).

  5. tvs117
    August 24, 2009 at 3:13 pm

    great guide, thank you!

  6. Mackenzie
    February 14, 2009 at 7:29 pm

    It's only more involved in Linux because you are making it that way. Why force users into the command line? Just use GParted like most Linux users this century.

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