Format a hard drive with Command Prompt


In Windows I would normally be driven to either format a drive through the Disk Management console or by right-clicking on a drive in Windows Explorer and selecting the “Format…” option, but there can be advantages to formatting a driver through Command Prompt. For example if you are reformatting a drive which previously had an Operating System on the drive you can find there are System Partitions on the drive which can’t be seen in Windows Explorer and refuse to format in the Disk Management console.

Note this is only a quick guide for Formatting Drives from Command Line, there are many more options available at your disposal. For a detailed insight to the options available for the DiskPart tool visit Microsofts Technet. In the example I have formatted an external hard drive for use of file storage in a Windows Operating System environment.

In order to format a drive through Command Prompt firstly lets open the prompt.

Click Start > Run and type “CMD”, pressing Enter should open a new terminal.

Start CMD


We need to next start the Disk Part tool, type “DISK PART” into the Command Line and press Enter.

Start Disk Part


Next let’s display and identify which volume we would like to format. Type “list volume” and press Enter. You should see a list of available volumes. Identify the one which you wish to format, be careful selecting the wrong volume will spell disaster!

List Volume


Type “select volume <x>” and press Enter, where <x> is the volume you wish to focus on.

Select Volume


Type “clean” and press Enter. This removes any and all partition or volume formatting from the disk in focus.



Type “create partition primary” and press Enter. This creates a primary partition on the current disk. After you create the partition, the focus automatically shifts to the new partition. It is possible to create multiple partitions if you like. To do this you would add the option size=<x> where <x> is the size in megabytes (MB) you would like the partition to be. If no size is specified, like in my example, the partition continues until there is no more unallocated space.

Create Partition


Type “format fs=ntfs quick label=test” and press Enter. This will now perform a quick format, using a ntfs file system and labelling the drive “test”. You may wish to use the file system fat32 in place of ntfs if you would like to use the drive with other operating systems.



Lastly type “assign letter <x>” and press Enter, where <x> is the letter you would like to assign the drive.

Assign Drive Letter

You can close the Disk Part tool and Command Prompt using the “exit” command. You should now see your freshly formatted drive in My Computer, ready to use.



Format a hard drive with Command Prompt