How to Format a Hard Drive in Ubuntu

By Campbell Vertesi

Formatting a hard drive is one of the most common hardware tasks. If you are adding a new drive or partition to your Linux installation, the drive must be formatted before it can be used. Ubuntu Linux makes it easy with the GParted tool, a graphical partition and format manager. GParted has a clear interface that anyone can use to format a drive for use in Linux, Windows or both.

Step 1

Collect information about your new hard drive. In a Terminal window, type "sudo lshw -C disk" (without the quotes). If Ubuntu has detected your hard drive, you will see information about it. Make sure to note the "logical name," which is the unique file system location Ubuntu has assigned to your new drive.

Step 2

Click "System", select "Administration" and choose "Partition Editor," which is sometimes labeled "GNOME Partition Editor". In the top right corner, select your new hard drive by its logical name.

Step 3

Check the settings for the disk. Make the partition size the maximum allowable and check the "Primary Partition" box.

Step 4

Choose the drive format based on your expected use. If you will only be using the drive in Linux, choose "ext3." If you plan to use the drive in Windows as well, choose "FAT32."

Step 5

Click "Apply."

Tips & Warnings

  • Partitioning and formatting a hard drive erases all information on the drive. If this is not a new drive, make sure you have a backup of any information you want to keep.