How To Format A New Internal Hard Drive

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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.

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