How to Format a Computer Without a Windows CD

By Ty Arthur

Formatting a computer hard drive is always a last-resort effort to pursue only when all other methods of attempting to fix a problem have failed. A formatted hard drive will be completely wiped of all data, including the operating system. The Microsoft Windows operating system comes with a built-in feature that allows you to format a hard drive without having to use a boot disc or installation CD.

Step 1

Click "Start," then "Control Panel." Double-click on "Administrative Tools."

Step 2

Double-click "Computer Management" and then click "Continue" when a box pops up. Wait for a new window to appear and then scroll down through the list of options on the left pane. Click on the "+" sign next to the "Storage" option and then click on "Disk Management."

Step 3

Find the hard drive you want to format in the list of drives in the center pane. Right-click on the drive and choose the "Format..." option from the new menu that will appear.

Step 4

Choose the "NTFS" option from the drop-down menu labeled as "File System." Leave the "Allocation Size" option at "Default" and then click on the "OK" button to begin the formatting process.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can only access the format option if you are currently logged into an account on the computer that has administrative access.
  • Depending on the size of the hard drive and the amount of data you have on it, the formatting process could take several hours.
  • Once the drive has been formatted, the Microsoft Windows operating system will be completely deleted. The only way to continue to use that drive will be to purchase a Windows installation disc and reinstall the operating system.