How To Reformat Your Hard Drive

How To Reformat Your Hard Drive

There are many reasons why you will have to reformat your hard drive. Most computer users have seen a formatting process being conducted by the computer professional during installation of operating system. But reformatting can be done at different intervals. In this guide you will learn about the importance of reformatting and defragmentation and how to reformat hard drive.

The most common reasons why users do so are as following:

  • To Eliminate Errors – You can consider reformatting your computer if it has lots of viruses or errors on a drive. A reformat could also repair all the corrupt sectors on the hard drive.
  • Speed up Computer – If you have an old computer system that is running slow for some time (even though it is free from viruses), it might be time you reformatted its drive.
  • Upgrading your System – You may also reformat your drive for upgrading to a new operating system or to re-install the same operating system. In this case it will be required to reformat the C drive as well, and it is recommended to seek professional help to prevent any issues.

How is Data Stored?

Data is stored on hard drives in the form of magnetic field. The tiniest unit for storage represents 1 bit. Data will be stored in 1 bit as North-South or South-North alignment of magnetic field. One of these orientations can represent “1” while the other can represent “0” in the binary system.

Because your sectors on your computer’s hard drive are constantly being stored with data, edited and deleted, a once-a-year reforming can help keep it error-free and speed up your system’s performance. So how to reformat hard drive?

Reformatting your Drive

The following method is applicable in Windows XP and only on drives other than the C drive. Before you reformat any drive make sure to backup all the important data on it. Make sure that it is a standard format and not a ‘quick’ format. A standard one will check all the sectors for errors. It will create a safer drive for all your data.

Use the following steps to reformat your hard drive:

  • Open Computer Management and then “Disk Management”
  • Find the drive that needs to be formatted
  • Right click on the drive and click on “Format”
  • Enter “File System” to be NTFS (usually most computer users will use this system)
  • Select “Default” for “Allocation Unit Size”
  • Uncheck the box that says “Perform a quick format” (you want a standard and full format)
  • Uncheck the box against “Enable file and folder compression”
  • Click on “ok”
  • Click on “ok” when a message appears warning you of how formatting could affect data on the volume. This will start the formatting process. Standard reformatting will take a long time if the volume is too large or slow.

Once reformatted, you could use the drive for storing files and installing new programs.


Refragmentation or defragmentation is another method used for “refreshing” your computer’s hard drive. It can also help speed up your system by a small margin. Fragmentation takes place on when files are broken down and fit across several sectors on the drive. This means a typical file that was initially stored in consecutive sectors is stored across several (spread out) locations because of regular editing and deletion. Because a single file could be spread across a larger number of far flung sectors, it could take longer for the file to be read and written. Defragmentation can however help bring all the fragments together in consecutive sectors.

Some of the main advantages of regular defragmentation include:

  • Speeding up your PC’s performance
  • Reducing chances of freeze-ups
  • Reducing boot time
  • Reducing random system crashes

It is extremely easy to defragment your computer’s drives from My Computer. Make sure to defragment the drives from time to time. Unlike reformatting, you could perform defragmentation on the C drive without any issues.

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