Hard Drive Initialization and Formatting Instructions




After you have successfully installed the hard drive, you need to partition and format it.

  1. Many hard drives come with installation software that automatically partitions, formats, and guides you through the process of copying the contents of your old hard disk onto your new hard disk. Instructions vary, but typically you boot your computer from a floppy disk or CD-ROM. Follow the instructions that came with your hard drive.

  2. If your new hard drive didn’t come with installation software, you can do it yourself without too much trouble.

  3. Just start up Windows XP and open the Disk Management console by going to Start, right-clicking My Computer, and selecting Manage.

  4. Sometimes Windows XP recognizes the new drive and automatically launches the Initialize And Convert Wizard. If that happens, click Next twice to get to the Select One Or More Disks To Initialize screen and check the Disk X box, where X is your drive’s disk number listed on the bar in Disk Management. (There’s usually only one disk listed on the Select Disks To Initialize screen.) Finally, click Next and then Finish.

  5. If the wizard doesn’t start, you can initialize the drive manually. Right-click the bottom bar with red and white dot in Disk Management and select Initialize Disk (see Figure 1).

    Figure 1: Select Initialize Disk.

  6. This may start the wizard, or it may just bring up the Initialize Disk screen. If it brings up the screen, confirm that there is a check mark next to Disk X and click OK.

After your new hard drive is initialized, look at the bar at the bottom right of the Disk Management screen; it represents the new drive and it should display the size of the hard disk and the word “Unallocated”. Next, you have to create a partition and then format the disk.

  1. Right-click the bar representing your new hard drive and select New Partition (see Figure 2).

    Figure 2: Right-click the bar and select New Partition.

  2. This launches the New Partition Wizard. Click Next on the Welcome screen.

  3. Select Primary Partition and click Next.

  4. Specify the partition size. The easiest choice is to just click Next; this uses the entire drive as one large partition (see Figure 3).

    Figure 3: Specify the partition size.

  5. If you want to assign your new drive a specific drive letter, select the letter you want from the pull-down menu. Otherwise accept the drive letter provided by Windows and click Next.

    Note:  You can always reassign a new drive letter later using Windows Disk Management.

  6. Select Format This Partition With The Following Settings and at File System choose the default, NTFS (see Figure 4).

    Figure 4: Format the drive and select the NTFS file system.

  7. Check your selected settings and click Finish to begin the format.

  8. In Disk Management, the new hard drive bar should now be labeled “New Volume”  with its new drive letter. Below that should be the size of the drive and the word “Healthy” (see Figure 5).

    Figure 5: Disk Management should show your hard drive as “Healthy.”

9.1  Formatting your hard drive for Mac Users Please refer to our FAQ section for Mac specific options.