Windows 11

Best 5 Ways to Format a Hard Drive or SSD on Windows 11

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When you format your hard drive or SSD in Windows 11, it essentially means erasing all the data and resetting the storage device to its original, unused state. It wipes your storage to a clean slate and prepares it for a fresh start.

You may want to do this to sell or donate your PC, install a new OS, fix drive errors, boost performance, or recover significant storage space. Note that formatting is irreversible, so you should back up your files before commencing. Also, note that formatting time for a drive depends on its size and speed. Hence, it can take some time.

1. Format Your Drive in File Explorer

Formatting a drive directly in File Explorer on Windows 11 offers instant access – no need to navigate system menus or download extra tools. It’s a quick and simple way to erase outdated data, freeing up precious storage space and giving your drive a clean slate for a fresh start.

Here are the steps to complete this solution:

  1. Press Windows + E to open the File Explorer and click This PC.
  2. Then, select the drive you intend to format, right-click it, and click Format in the context menu.
    Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11
  3. When the window opens, adjust the File systemAllocation unit size, and Volume label as you please, click the Start, and OK buttons to initial the format process.
    Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11

2. Format Your Drive Using Windows Settings

Formatting your drive through Windows Settings in Windows 11 offers a simple, built-in solution for a clean slate. It doesn’t require downloading additional tools, making it accessible and convenient, especially for everyday users. While not the most feature-rich approach, it’s perfect for basic formatting tasks like reinstalling Windows or wiping data before selling your device.

Here are the steps to complete this solution:

  1.  Press the Windows + I keys simultaneously to open Settings, select System, and click Storage.
    
Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11
  2. Then, click Advanced storage settings under the Storage management section.
    Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11
  3. Once the available options show, click Disks & volumes to see the disks connected to your PC and available volumes.
    Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11
  4. Then, select the desired drive and click Properties.
    Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11
  5. Afterward, find and click Format.
    Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11
  6. Enter basic information about the driver, like volume label, and file system.
  7. Finally, click the Format option to initiate the formatting process.

3. Format Your Drive Using Disk Management

Disk Management offers a built-in, familiar interface on Windows 11, allowing you to format your hard drive or on SSD Windows 11 simply and accessibly. No additional downloads or complex commands needed. It provides basic options for partitioning and formatting, allowing you to clean up drives easily, prepare for new operating systems, or reclaim storage space. Use the following steps to complete this solution:

  1. Press the Windows + X keys simultaneously to open the Quick Link menu and click Disk Management.
  2. When the Disk Management window opens, right-click the intended drive and click Format.
    Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11
  3. Then, set the Volume label, choose an appropriate File system, and change the Allocation unit size depending on your needs.
  4. Finally, click OK to save changes, and click OK again to begin formatting.

4. Format Your Drive Using Command Prompt

Command prompt formatting offers granular control, letting you choose specific drives, partitions, and file systems. It bypasses graphical interfaces, potentially speeding up the process on older or slower computers. For tech-savvy users, it’s a powerful and flexible tool for precise disk management tasks.

Use the following steps to complete the solution:

  1. Press the Windows and S keys together and type cmd in the text field.
  2. Then, choose the Run as administrator option on the right side to start the Command Prompt with administrator privileges.
    error 2001-0123
  3. Once the User Account Control prompts you, select Yes to continue.
    error 2001-0123
  4. When Command Prompt displays, enter the following commands into the prompt and tap the Enter key after each:
    diskpart
    list disk
    select disk [#] 
    clean
    create partition primary
    format fs=[x]
  5. Replace # above with the target drive number and x with the to the appropriate file system.
    Format Hard Drive or SSD Windows 11

5. Format Your Drive Using Windows PowerShell

PowerShell offers precise control over formatting, allowing you to target specific drives, partitions, and file systems, perfect for advanced customization. Scripting capabilities in PowerShell automate repetitive formatting tasks, saving you time and effort, especially for managing multiple drives. Integrated with Windows 11, PowerShell avoids the need for additional software, streamlining your workflow and keeping your system lean.

Use the following steps to complete the solution:

  1. Click the Windows icon, search for powershell, and hit ctrl + shift + Enter simultaneously to open the Windows PowerShell as an admin.
  2. To confirm, click Yes on the UAC prompt.
  3. Then, enter the following command to find the intended drive and hit Enter:
    Get-Disk
  4. Type this code below to clear the drive and hit Enter:
    Get-Disk 3 | Clear-Disk -RemoveData
    Change the 3 above to your drive’s number. Incorrect number specification could wipe out the wrong drive and cause data loss.
  5. Then, enter A to confirm you want to clear the specified drive and hit Enter.
  6. The following command initializes the drive with the default GUID Partition Table (GPT) partition scheme. Enter the code and hit Enter:
    Initialize-Disk -Number 3
    Change the 3 above to your drive’s number.
  7. Even though it is advisable to use a GPT partition scheme, if required, use the Master Boot Record (MBR) scheme with the command below:
    Initialize-Disk -Number 1 -PartitionStyle MBR.
  8. Then, type the following command to format the drive and create a new partition, and hit Enter:
    New-Partition -DiskNumber 3 -UseMaximumSize | Format-Volume -FileSystem NTFS -NewFileSystemLabel driveToFormat
    Change the 3 above to your drive’s number. and driveToFormat to your storage name.
  9. Finally, enter the following command to assign the drive a drive letter drive and hit Enter:
    Get-Partition -DiskNumber 3 | Set-Partition -NewDriveLetter N
    Change the 3 above to your drive’s number and N to the letter you wish to assign the storage.
  10. If you get an error message that says Set-Partition: The requested access path is already in use, run the above command again or assign a different drive letter.

In conclusion, from tackling performance hiccups to safeguarding your data before a new OS, formatting your hard drive or SSD can be a necessary and powerful tool in your Windows 11 toolkit. This guide has explored five effective methods, each catering to different needs and technical expertise.

Whether purging old data, installing a new OS, or simply seeking a performance boost, format your hard drive or SSD on Windows 11 for that liberating feeling. Remember to back up your data diligently, take your time, and enjoy the satisfaction of a clean slate.

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Richard Omachona
Richard is a techie in providing fixes and solutions for computer issues of various kinds. Among his contemporaries, he is a preferred choice. His experiences are vast in Windows operating systems, and several other skills in programming such as Python, Web Frontend designing implementing at industry standards, best practices in HTML, CSS and JavaScript. and basics in Web Backend. He also loves traveling, gaming and music.