How to Format a Laptop Without a Windows Disc

By Jason Gordon

Unlike people, when computer systems start acting up, a clean format usually takes care of the problem. Sometimes it is necessary to reformat a computer if the system becomes too slow, unstable or is infected with malware. A Windows disc makes this process much easier, but it isn't absolutely necessary. Learn one method for formatting a hard drive without a Windows disc.

Things You'll Need

  • Hard-drive USB case

Step 1

Back up all important data. Formatting a drive erases the data, so back up anything that is important to you onto another hard drive or CD and DVD-Rs.

Step 2

Remove the hard drive you want to format from your computer. It is difficult to format the primary partition (containing operating system) from a computer while running.

Step 3

Attach the hard drive you want to format as an external drive using an external hard-drive USB case. Alternatively, you could boot from a secondary drive if it also contains an operating system.

Step 4

Navigate to "Control Panel," then " Disk Management." You can also type compmgmt.msc in the "Run" command line.

Step 5

Select the attached hard drive you want to format and choose "Format this partition."

Tips & Warnings

  • Norton Partition Magic is a useful program that--while not free--might still save you a lot of time and save you from moving your drives around. It can partition and format hard drives of multiple sizes using both FAT and NTFS file formats. See "Additional Resources," below, for more information.

References & Resources