How to Format a Western Digital Hard Drive

By Norm Dickinson

Hard drives must be formatted for a particular operating system before they will work correctly. Most drives are factory-formatted for a particular operating system and work right out of the box. Formatting a hard drive will erase all of the information on the drive, including the operating system, drivers, data files, programs and photos. Typical reasons to format a hard drive are to erase the drive, prepare the drive for a new operating system, or use the drive for a new purpose such as a backup device instead of a primary drive.

Things You'll Need

  • Western Digital hard drive
  • Working computer

Formatting Western Digital Hard Drives for Data Storage

Step 1

Connect the hard drive to a working computer that is running an operating system the same as or newer than the operating system that the drive will be using. Connect external drives to either a USB port or e-SATA port and connect power to the drive. Power down the computer and connect internal drives to a data cable and a power cable, and connect the data cable to an available port on the motherboard according to the instructions that come with the motherboard. Power on the computer.

Step 2

Run "Disk Management" by selecting "Start," "Programs," "Control Panel," "Administrative Tools," "Computer Management" and "Disk Management." Right-click on the drive to be formatted and choose to delete partition if one exists.

Step 3

Right-click on the drive and choose "New Simple Volume" from the menu. Click "Next" and select the size of the first volume that is to be created, or select "Next" to continue and create a single volume that takes up the entire available space on the disk.

Step 4

Click on a drive letter for the new volume if one is desired and click "Next." Click on the desired file system and change the default allocation unit size if desired and click "Next."

Step 5

Repeat this procedure to create additional volumes on the drive if applicable.

Formatting Western Digital Hard Drives for an Operating System

Step 1

Install the hard drive in place of the existing primary hard drive in the computer. Boot the computer with the operating system boot disk or system restore disk in the optical drive, and boot to the CD/DVD drive when prompted.

Step 2

Highlight the "Install Operating System" choice in the boot menu and allow the system to load up to an installation screen with more options.

Step 3

Click "Install Now" and select advanced options when choosing a location for the installation. Delete any existing partitions on the hard drive and install the operating system on the free space on the drive.

Step 4

Allow the operating system to format the drive and continue with the installation.

Tips & Warnings

  • The default settings for the file system and allocation unit size are normally sufficient for most users. Quick format should only be used if the file system and allocation unit size are left unchanged from the prior format.
  • Formatting erases all data on a hard drive. Do not attempt to format a hard drive unless positive that it is necessary.