How To Format A Drive With Windows Installed on it – Step By Step Guide

If you own a drive that has Windows installed that you wish to format there are a few steps you must do first. This article will provide an easy-to-follow guide for formatting the drive that has Windows installed along with guidelines on what you should do in the event of issues.

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How To Format A Drive With Windows Installed on it

Formatting a drive that has Windows installed isn’t as easy as formatting a blank drive. There are some steps you must take and some things you should be aware of before beginning. This guide will take all the steps step-by-step.

There are a few points to remember prior to beginning:

Make backups of any information you would like to save prior to starting. Formatting erases all data stored on your drive.

You must have you have a Windows install disc. Or a USB drive. This will be required to install Windows following formatting.

Choose the format you’d like to use. There are two major kinds of formats: quick and full.

A full format erases everything on the drive and creates an entirely new duplicate of Windows. It can resolve some issues that your computer is experiencing, however, it’ll take longer.

The quick format erases all data stored that is on your drive however it will not create a new version of Windows. This is the most efficient alternative, but it doesn’t resolve all problems.

If you’re aware of what you can be expecting, let’s begin.

Step 1: Backup your data

Before you start anything, make sure you backup any information you wish to keep. Formatting will erase all the data stored on the drive, so you’ll have to backup anything you wish to save elsewhere.

There are several methods to accomplish this:

Transfer the data to a different drive. This could take the form of an external hard disk, USB drive, or another segment on the exact driver.

Use cloud storage. Services such as Google Drive, Dropbox, and OneDrive allow you to sync your data to the cloud so that they’re safe when your hard drive gets deleted.

Step 2: Place disc from your Windows CD to install Windows or USB drive

After you’ve backed your files, you’ll need for you to connect the Windows CD or USB drives. This is the device you’ll use to install Windows when you’ve formatted.

If you do not have a Windows Installation disc or USB drive, you’ll have made one. You can do this using another computer that has a DVD drive, and USB port.

Step 3. Boot from the installation disc or USB drive

If you have your installation disc or USB drive in place it, you’ll be required to start from it. It’s different based on your system, but you’ll typically need to change your boot order within the BIOS.

To accomplish this, you’ll have to hold a key during the start-up. The key you press is typically F2, F12 ESC, or DEL. If you’re not certain which one you should press, check the manual for your computer.

Once you’re inside the BIOS Look for the section titled “Boot Order” or “Boot Priority.” This lets you select which devices you want to boot from. Select the install disc as well as a USB drive and then move it up to first on the list.

Save the changes and quit the BIOS. Your computer will start up using the USB drive or installation disc.

Step 4: Format your drive

If your computer boots from the installation disc, or USB drive, it’s time to format your drive.

To open this, you must first launch the “Disk Management” tool. On Windows 7, you can perform this through the Start menu, clicking on “Computer” and selecting “Manage.”

On Windows 8 and 10, you can open the Control Panel and click “Administrative Tools.” Double-click “Computer Management.”

Within The Disk Management tool, find the drive you wish to format. Right-click it, and then select “Format.”

Select the format you’d like Full or Quick. The full format takes longer however it will create the new version of Windows. The quick format will erase the information that is on your drive.

Select “Format” to start the process. Based on the dimensions of your drive, this process can take between a couple of minutes and several hours.

Step 5: Reinstall Windows

After the format has been completed it is time to install Windows. For this to happen, you need to open”Setup,” or click on the “Setup” program on your USB drive or installation disc.

Follow the steps to install Windows. You’ll have to select the version of Windows you’d like to install, input your product key, then decide where you want you to want to install Windows.

Select”Custom” instead of the “Custom” option when prompted. This lets you select the drive you want to run Windows on. Select the drive you have just formatted, and select “Next.”

Follow the instructions to complete the installation of Windows. After the installation process is completed you’ll have a new version of Windows on your hard drive.

Possible Problems & Solutions:

If you encounter any issues while formatting the drive there are some suggestions you can make. Make sure you’re using the proper drive letter.

If you’re not certain what drive letter you should use then you can utilize”dir,” which is the “dir” command to list every drive with their respective letters. Simply enter “dir” and press Enter.

When the device you’re trying format is not recognized, it could be that it’s damaged and requires to be fixed. You can utilize the “chkdsk” command to scan the drive for any errors and fix the errors. Just enter “chkdsk” followed by the drive’s name and hit Enter.

After you’ve successfully formatted your drive, you’re now able to start installing Windows. If you do not have a Windows installation disc then you can download the installation files from Microsoft’s site.

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I do prior to formatting a drive that has Windows installed?
  1. Make backups of your files.
  2. You must have a Windows install disc.
  3. Place your Windows install disc on your DVD/CD drive.
  4. Make sure to reboot your system.
  5. Choose the drive on your CD/DVD to be your boot drive.
  6. Follow the on-screen directions to format your drive.
What are the potential risks of formatting a drive when you have Windows operating on it?

There are some potential risks when formatting a drive when you have Windows operating on it. One of them is that you may accidentally erase important information from the system or personal information.

A different possibility is that you create a corrupted drive, and then lose access to the Windows installation. In addition, if you do not have a backup to your files, you may lose important documents and files.

What are the advantages of formatting a hard drive with Windows operating on it?

There are many advantages when formatting a drive that has Windows running on it. One of the benefits is that it could help enhance speed and performance on your PC.

Another advantage is that it helps to free disk space. In addition, formatting can help solve any corrupted files or issues that may be present on the hard disk.

What can I do to determine whether formatting a hard drive with Windows installed is the best choice for me?

If you’re not sure whether or not it is advisable to format your drive using Windows installed or not, you may ask someone who has more experience in using Windows for guidance.

Do I have the ability to format my drive that has Windows installed without losing any of my data?

Yes, you can format your drive using Windows installed without losing any of your data.

Are there any frequent mistakes that can occur when formatting a drive when Windows running on it?

The most frequent mistakes that happen when formatting a drive that has Windows installed are:

  1. Not having backups of your files prior to formatting.
  2. Incorrect file format to your hard drive.
  3. An incorrect file system that is appropriate for your drive.
  4. You are not using the correct size partition for your drive.
  5. You are not using the correct cluster size for your drive.
What is the impact of formatting a disk with Windows installed without taking the proper precautions?

When you reformat a hard drive that is running Windows installed without taking the proper precautions you may lose all your data and end up with no operating system to work.


Formatting a drive that has Windows installed is an intimidating process however it’s not impossible. Be sure to backup your data first and then follow the steps of this article.

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