How do I reformat a hard drive and remove old partitions?


want to reformat my hard drive. It currently has 3 partitions. I have read through all 225 previous questions on this subject. When I use the format command "format c: /s it only formats the c partition, I want to clear the whole drive and start over and create only one partition if possible or if I have to I will create new partitions, but I want to start with a clean hard drive. Thanks for all your help.


This question was answered on March 9, 2004. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.

I take it you have already backed up all your data and have created a boot disk To reformat you hard drive you must first run fdisk from a DOS prompt, this will erase all partitions and any data on the harddrive Listed below are some easy to follow instructions:

NOTE: If you are replacing an old or broken hard disk with a new one, the procedure is the same as below, except that you would need to boot your computer from a floppy system disk that contains the FDISK utility

Completely exit Windows and go to the DOS prompt Do not use the DOS prompt icon

Type: FDISK and press [Enter]

Choose option #5 to Change current fixed disk drive to the drive you wish to work with The first drive in the system is the C: drive, so if you have added a new drive, select drive 2 to begin working with it

Choose option #4 to Display partition information Take note of all the partitions listed, including partition number and Type Press [Esc] to continue If there is more than one partition listed, do the following:

4a Choose option #3 to Delete partition...

4b Based on the Type of the partitions that you noted in Step #4, select #1-4 for deleting the appropriate partitions

4c When finished deleting all partitions, press [Esc] to return to the FDISK Options menu

Choose option #1 to Create DOS partition...

Choose option #1 to Create Primary DOS partition or you can choose #2 to Create an Extended DOS Partition An extended DOS partition cannot be bootable

Then enter the size that you wish to set for that drive, either in megabytes or as a percentage, and return to the FDISK Options menu

Only perform steps 7-9 if you are creating more than one partition on your hard disk Otherwise, skip to step 10

Choose option #1 to Create DOS partition...

Choose option #3 to Create Logical DOS Drive(s) in the Extended DOS Partition Again, FDISK will offer the rest of the hard disk as the size Each additional partition will be given a drive letter starting with the letter "D"

Press and exit FDISK

Go to DOS prompt and format the new drive(s) Use the following command:

FORMAT drive: /U

Enter the command DIR for each new drive to verify that the drive is accessible Since the drive has just been formatted, you will not see any files listed, but the header information is sufficient to verify that the drive can be accessed

Reboot the computer to verify everything is working properly

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Posted by Student of Katharine Gibbs School - New York on March 9, 2004