How to Erase an External Hard Drive

By Gabriel Dockery

Erasing an entire hard drive is sometimes needed when one wants to erase sensitive data that is no longer needed, or simply wants a fresh hard drive. External drives operate in much the same way when it comes to disc operations as internal hard drives, and as such, can be erased much like any other internal hard drive. Eliminating all the data on a disc is known as formatting it, and is an easy task to accomplish by even the newest of computer users.

Step 1

Open the "My Computer" window by clicking the "Start" button, and left clicking the "Computer" heading.

Step 2

Locate your external hard drive you wish to erase among the system drives listed here.

Step 3

Right-click the external hard drive's icon, and select the "Format" heading to open the disk formatting menu.

Step 4

Click the "Start" button on this menu to begin the disc formatting process. Depending on the size of your disk, this may take several minutes or several hours.

Step 5

Explore the external drive upon completion to ensure all data has been erased.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clicking the "Quick Format" radio button will decrease the time needed to format the drive.
  • While formatting erases all data from a device drive, it does not make it unrecoverable. For maximum data security consider a drive scrubbing software.