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format exteral hard drive titleFormatting an external hard drive is a simple task and can be done from your computer in a few easy steps.

Whether you’re looking to get rid a virus or malware, run a clean install of windows or clear your device to give away, knowing how to format your hard drive can be a pretty neat trick to learn.

 

In the videos below we’ll show you how to format a hard drive for both Mac and Windows PC, so you’ll be able to work with a clean hard drive in the future.

Warning- Reformatting a hard drive is effectively re-writing or deleting the contents of the entire device. Remember to remove any valuable information of data from the hard drive before you reformat.  These methods are for a ‘quick reformat’.

Windows

So let’s start with formatting an external hard drive for Windows, we’ve done this process on a Windows 7 machine but the process is similar across the board:

If you can’t view the video, here are the steps below:

Steps:

  1. Plug your device into the computer. (some drives may also need power from the wall socket)
  2. Open Windows Explorer, click the “Computer” section in the sidebar, and find your drive.
  3. Right click on the drive and choose “Format”.
  4. Under “File System”, choose the file system you want to use
  5. Give your drive a name under “Volume Label” and check the “Quick Format” box.
  6. Click “Start” to format the drive. It should only take a few seconds and you’ll get a notification when it’s done.

MAC

Again if you can’t view the video, here are the steps for formatting a MAC external hard drive.

Steps

  1. Plug your drive into the MAC
  2. Open Finder and go to /Applications/utilities and double click on “Disk Utility”
  3. Select your drive in the left-hand sidebar and go to the “Erase” tab
  4. Under the “Format” menu, chose the file system you want to use.
  5. Give your drive a name a name and click the “Erase” button. It should only take a few seconds to format your drive.

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7 COMMENTS

  1. Give me the drive after you have done what you describe and all the information will still be there and recoverable. Bad advice – sorry.

  2. This article, while accurately describing how to format a hard drive, is misleading in saying that it is ‘effectively re-writing or deleting the contents of the entire device’. It does absolutely no such thing. Formatting the drive is fine if you’re keeping the device for a clean install but, as one of the options you suggest is to ‘clear your device to give away’, it should be made clear that neither re-partitioning nor formatting erases that actual data contents – it merely re-writes the drives ‘index’ telling the operating system that the blocks that contain data are now available to be over-written. There are freely available tools that any recipient of a formatted drive can use to recover the data. If you are formatting a drive to sell or give away you should use a secure erase tool to make sure the data is unrecoverable. This will over-write the data (usually several times), with random data to ensure that it is unrecoverable. Tools for this are also free to download. If you have private or sensitive data on a drive that you’re either recycling or giving away remember that just formatting the drive is not enough to ensure that your data is unrecoverable.

  3. This article, while accurately describing how to format a hard drive, is misleading in saying that it is ‘effectively re-writing or deleting the contents of the entire device’. It does absolutely no such thing. Formatting the drive is fine if you’re keeping the device for a clean install but, as one of the options you suggest is to ‘clear your device to give away’, it should be made clear that neither re-partitioning nor formatting erases the actual data contents – it merely re-writes the drives ‘index’ telling the operating system that the blocks that contain data are now available to be over-written. There are freely available tools that any recipient of a second hand, formatted drive can use to recover the data. If you are formatting a drive to sell or give away you should use a secure erase tool to make sure the data is unrecoverable. This will over-write the data (usually several times), with random data to ensure that it is effectively deleted. Tools for this are also free to download. If you have private or sensitive data on a drive that you’re either recycling or giving away remember that just formatting the drive is not enough to ensure that your data is securely erased.

  4. Do that and all the data will still be recoverable. It takes more than a few seconds to OVERWRITE the data on the disc for security.

  5. I would never give away or sell a hard drive, I always destroy them completely even if they are broken. One question I have though if anyone knows the answer, when you return a mobile phone to factory settings is your old data easily recoverable? The only reason I ask is because many of us use them for web access and our passwords would have been recorded on them. Also it is a device often bought and sold second hand.

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