How to Delete the Files From a Full External Hard Drive

By Marissa Willman

An external hard drive is a storage unit not connected to a computer but is used to hold documents, images, videos and other files. While many external hard drives have significant storage space, you may find your drive is full after storing large files to the drive or backing up your computer to the drive. If you need to remove files from the external hard drive, connect the drive to a computer to view and delete files.

Step 1

Connect your external hard drive to your computer or laptop using the USB cord that came with the device. Open the drive on your computer by double clicking on the appropriate drive in the "My Computer" folder or selecting the "Open Folder to View Files" option from the Autorun utility.

Step 2

Browse through the files to find the ones you want to remove. To delete the files, right click the file or folder and click "Delete" from the drop-down menu. Click "Yes" to confirm the removal. You can also click on the file or folder icon and drag it to your desktop's Recycle Bin. Continue deleting files until you have removed all the unnecessary files from your external hard drive.

Step 3

Open the "My Computer" folder to locate the icon for your external hard drive. Right click on the icon and select "Format" from the drop-down menu to reformat the drive. This will erase all the data on the drive. This is a quicker option to delete files from your hard drive if you want to delete everything the drive contains.

Tips & Warnings

  • Delete your files manually if your external hard drive contains files you wish to access later.
  • Do not format your hard drive unless you are sure you will not need any of its files at a later time. Once your drive is formatted, the data is irretrievable.