There are times when you need to erase all the content of your hard drive and format the drive. This situation may arise when you are selling your computer, installing a new operating system or to setup a backup for your computer. In any case, you have to erase and format your hard drive to maintain the integrity of your data. Read below to find out how you can do it.
When you want to install a new drive to your computer, you have to format the hard drive with a specific file system. It varies with an operating system that you are using on your computer. Each operating system uses a file system to maintain the data in your machine. Some of the popular file systems are NTFS, FAT, HFS etc. It is important to know that your hard drive needs to be formatted with a compatible file system.
Here are some of the most used file systems for your hard drive:
NTFS – This is a default file system for windows operating system. Most of the hard drives used in Windows have the NTFS file system. You can use the NTFS formatted drive in Mac OS or Linux, but they are capable of only reading NTFS, you can’t write on your hard drive with these operating systems.
FAT32 – This is one of the former file systems used on Windows operating system. You can use this file system on Windows, but the latest versions of this operating system are not compatible with this file system. Apart from this, you can only use a file size of 4GB or less with this file system.
ExFAT – This is very much similar to the FAT32 file system, but is advanced than that. The storage for ExFAT is more than 4GB file size. This file system can be used on both Windows and Mac OS/ OS X.
HFS Plus or HFS+ – This file system is the default file system for Mac OS/ OS X. The Mac systems can operate, read and write on this file system. To use this file system with Windows operating system, you have to make use of any third party tool.
Since you have understood the concept of file systems on your hard drive, let us proceed with the steps to format your hard drive:
If you want to erase all the content of your hard drive on the computer, you need to get some tools like bootable DVD/CD, some third party tool if you have a specific purpose. With your computer, you have to start making various adjustments.
Format Hard Drive on Windows
For windows, you have to access the BIOS setup utility of your computer and make adjustments in the settings. Here is how you can do it:
1 – Take a backup of all your data from hard drive.
2 – If it asks to press any key, press it. If it does not work, access the BIOS by pressing F2, F12 or Delete during the startup.
3 – Insert the CD/DVD that has installation and erasing tool or operating system and press enter.
4 – Follow the instructions and select your drive to erase.
5 – Give a file system for your hard drive and press next.
6 – Once it is done, it will prompt for installing the operating system.
It is very important to note that you must have a backup of all the data in your computer before going for this. There are a number of computers and have specific keys to access the BIOS setup.
Format on Mac OS
If you are using a Mac computer and want to erase all the content of your hard drive, you have to get a CD/DVD for your computer and reinstall the operating system.
While restarting the computer, choose the option to Install from scratch. This option will use the installer to erase your complete hard drive content. The formatting can be done by defining a file system, preferably HFS X for Mac systems.
It is one of the easiest procedure to erase your hard drive on both Mac and Windows. one thing that must be taken care of would be to get a proper backup of your data. Once erased and formatted, it is very difficult to get back your formatted data. So your first move after thinking about formatting should be getting a backup.
Senior Editor, Content Analyst and a fan of exceptional customer service. John develops and publishes instructional and informational content regarding partition management, Windows hot-fixes, data management and computer troubleshooting.
As a tenured data recovery specialist, John shares exceptional insights and blog posts about data loss and data recovery across any storage device. With 8+ years’ experience in writing for Data Recovery for both Mac OS and Windows OS computers, he is an avid learner who always wants to polish and simplify the data recovery process. John passes his free time playing Chess and reading Science Fiction novels.