How to Format a Disk With a Command Prompt

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You can format almost any drive through Windows Explorer or Disk Management, but sometimes it's just easier to use the Command Prompt. This method also enables additional features, such as securely deleting data or changing file systems which may be unavailable through Windows Explorer. You can also specify that a drive be dismounted when required for formatting. However, you can't format Windows' "C" drive, since it holds the operating system from which you're running the format command.

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Step 1

Click the Windows orb; type "cmd" and press "Enter" to open the Command Prompt.

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Step 2

Type "format X:" and press "Enter" twice to perform a typical formatting procedure on the "X" drive. Replace "X" with the drive letter you wish to format.

Step 3

Add " /q" to the basic command to perform a quick format, which doesn't overwrite data or check for bad sectors. As an example, "format X: /q" quickly formats the X drive.

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Step 4

Add " /fs:file_system" to the command line to format the drive with the specified file system. As an example, "format X: /q /fs:NTFS" quickly formats the X drive in the NTFS file system.

Step 5

Add " /p:#" to overwrite the data "#" number of times. As an example, "format X: /p:3" overwrites the data three times. This option doesn't work alongside the " /q" parameter.

Step 6

Add " /x" to dismount the drive if necessary to perform the format procedure.

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Step 7

Enter a volume label after formatting is complete and press "Enter." Alternatively, add " /v:label" to specify the label in the format command, which avoids the need to enter it after formatting.

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