There are multiple ways to format a drive in Windows 10. You can format a drive either from File Explorer, Disk Management, Command Prompt, or PowerShell.
Like earlier versions, Windows 10 also supports two types of formats: quick format and full.
Quick vs full format
The quick format, as its name indicates, completes the format job in a few seconds. To make it quick, Windows does not check the drive for bad sectors. Whereas, the full format checks for bad sectors on the selected drive. If you want to check the drive for bad sectors as well, go for the full format, but Windows will take a long time to complete the full format operation.
Neither of these format types erases the data permanently from the drive. If you want to format a drive to erase the data permanently, use a third-party tool that offers a secure erase option.
The following are the four methods out there to format a drive in Windows 10.
IMPORTANT: Formatting a drive will delete all data on it. Back up data to another drive before formatting a drive.
Method 1 of 4
Format drives from File Explorer
Step 1: Open up This PC. Right-click on the drive that you want to format and then click the Format option. Doing so will open the Format New Volume dialog.
Step 2: Here, select a file system for the drive (NTFS is the recommended one), and make sure that the Quick Format checkbox is selected if you want to perform a quick format.
If you are not sure what the Quick Format is, please refer to the information mentioned above.
Additionally, you can type the name that you want to assign to the drive for easy identification. Enter the name in the Volume label box.
Step 3: Finally, click the Start button. Click the OK button when you get the warning dialog to format the drive and delete all data on it. Once done, you will get the “Format complete” message on your screen.
Method 2 of 4
Format drives via Disk Management
Step 1: Open the Disk Management by right-clicking on the Start button and then clicking on the Disk Management option. Alternatively, type Disk Management or diskmgmt in the Start/taskbar search and then press the Enter key to open the same.
Step 2: As you can see in the picture, the Disk Management window displays all connected physical drives and partitions on your PC. To format a drive, right-click on it and then click the Format option.
Step 3: In the resulting dialog box, enter a name for your drive (type in the Volume label box), select a file system (NTFS is the recommended one), select Perform a quick format, and then click the OK button.
Select the Enable file and folder compression checkbox only if you want to save some free space by compressing files and folders that you add to this drive in the future (available for NTFS file system only). Note that compressed files might open slowly than standard files. Refer to how to compress drives to free up disk space in Windows 10 article for more information on this.
Click the OK button when you see the warning dialog. You won’t get any message on the screen once the format is done.
Method 3 of 4
Format drives from Command Prompt in Windows 10
Step 1: Open the Command Prompt as administrator. To do so, type CMD in the Start/taskbar search, right-click on the Command Prompt entry in the search results, and then click Run as administrator option.
Click the Yes button when you get the User Account Control screen to launch the elevated Command Prompt.
Step 2: At the Command Prompt window, execute the following commands.
Press Enter key.
Press Enter key.
The list volume command lists all drives (volumes) on your PC. The Ltr column (second from the left) displays the drive letter of the drives for easy identification. Since the command also displays the size of all listed drives, figuring out the drive that you want to format is not difficult.
Note the volume number of the drive that you want to format.
Select volume #
(replace # with the volume number that you want to format)
(For quick format use the command below)
format fs=<FileSystem> label=”<VolumeLabel>” quick
(For full format use this command)
format fs=<FileSystem> label=”<VolumeLabel>”
In the command above, replace FileSystem with NTFS or FAT32, and VolumeLabel with the name that you would like to assign to the drive.
Method 4 of 4
Format drives from PowerShell in Windows 10
In addition to the Command Prompt, one can use also use the Windows PowerShell to format drives. Here is how to do that.
Step 1: Open the PowerShell as an administrator. To do that, right-click on the Start button and then click the PowerShell (admin) option.
Step 2: At the PowerShell window, execute the following command to list all drives, their drive letters, drive volume labels, and size.
Press Enter key.
Step 3: Next, execute this command to format the drive.
For quick format use this command
Format-Volume -DriveLetter “<DriveLetter>” -FileSystem <FileSystem> -NewFileSystemLabel “<VolumeLabel>”
For full format use this command
Format-Volume -DriveLetter “<DriveLetter>” -FileSystem <FileSystem> -NewFileSystemLabel “<VolumeLabel> -Full”
Once the job is done, you may close the PowerShell window.
Our how-to format USB drives via Command Prompt in Windows 10 guide might also interest you.