How do you format an external hard drive?

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’.


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:


  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.


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


  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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