You must be logged on as an administrator to perform these steps.

To create a partition or volume (the two terms are often used interchangeably) on a hard disk, there must be either unallocated (empty) space on the hard disk or free space within an extended partition on the hard disk.

If there is no unallocated space, you can create some by shrinking an existing partition, deleting a partition, or by using a third-party partitioning program. For more information, see Can I repartition my hard disk? For more information about reformatting a hard disk, see the "What is reformatting?" section below.

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To create and format a partition (volume)

When you create partitions on a basic disk using Disk Management, the first three volumes you create will be formatted as primary partitions. Beginning with the fourth volume, each volume will be configured as a logical drive within an extended partition. For more information, see What are partitions and logical drives?

  1. Open Computer Management by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, clicking Administrative Tools, and then double-clicking Computer Management. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. In the Navigation pane, under Storage, click Disk Management.

  3. Right-click an unallocated region on your hard disk, and then click New Simple Volume.

  4. In the New Simple Volume Wizard, click Next.

  5. Type the size of the volume you want to create in megabytes (MB) or accept the maximum default size, and then click Next.

  6. Accept the default drive letter or choose a different drive letter to identify the partition, and then click Next.

  7. In the Format Partition dialog box, do one of the following:

    • If you don't want to format the volume right now, click Do not format this volume, and then click Next.

    • To format the volume with the default settings, click Next.

  8. Review your choices, and then click Finish.

To format an existing partition (volume)

Warning

  • Formatting a volume will destroy any data on the partition. Be sure to make backups of any data you want to save before you begin.

  • You cannot format a disk or partition that is currently in use, including the partition that contains Windows.

  • Quick format is a formatting option that creates a new file table but does not fully overwrite or erase the volume. A quick format is much faster than a normal format, which fully erases any existing data on the volume.

  1. Open Computer Management by clicking the Start button Picture of the Start button, clicking Control Panel, clicking System and Maintenance, clicking Administrative Tools, and then double-clicking Computer Management. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  2. In the Navigation pane, under Storage, click Disk Management.

  3. Right-click the volume that you want to format, and then click Format.

  4. To format the volume with the default settings, in the Format dialog box, click OK, and then click OK again.

What is reformatting?

Reformatting refers to formatting a hard disk or partition that already has been formatted or that contains data on it. Reformatting a disk deletes all of the data on the disk.

In the past, reformatting a hard disk and reinstalling Windows was sometimes recommended as a method for fixing a serious computer problem. Reformatting would fix the problem at the expense of deleting everything on the computer. You would then have to reinstall your programs by using the original installation files or discs, and then restore all of your personal files, such as documents, music, and pictures, from backups that you had made beforehand.

Today, this version of Windows offers a number of recovery options that are less drastic and which provide a better place to start fixing your computer problems. For more information, search Windows Help and Support for "system recovery options." Reformatting and reinstalling should be considered as a last resort that is only performed after all other recovery or diagnostic options have proved unsuccessful.

You cannot reformat a disk or partition that is currently in use, including the partition that contains Windows. This is a safety feature so that you cannot delete Windows by accident. To reformat your computer's hard disk and reinstall Windows, restart your computer using the Windows installation disc (this is commonly known as booting from the installation disc). During the Setup process, you can repartition and reformat your hard disk and then reinstall Windows. The process will erase your files and programs, so be sure to make backups of your data and program files before you begin. For more information, search Windows Help and Support for "installing and reinstalling Windows."