Disk formatting: All your questions answered


Madalina Dinita
by Madalina Dinita
Managing Editor
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disk formatting

Disk formatting is a process that prepares a storage device for initial use. During the formatting process, file systems and partitions are crated allowing you to store files on your storage device.

Disk formatting: Everything you need to know about it

How does formatting a drive work?

Formatting a drive will prepare the selected partition to be used by your PC. This process includes removing all files from that partition and setting up a file system.


How to perform disk formatting?

In order to format a partition, you need to do the following:

  1. Make sure that your storage device is connected to your PC.
  2. Go to This PC, locate the partition you want to format and select Format from the menu.
    format context menu disk formatting
  3. When the Format window appears, set the desired format settings and click on the Start button.
    format window disk formatting
  4. The formatting process will now start.

Frequently asked questions regarding formatting

Does formatting a disk erase data?

The quick answer is yes, but the complete answer is a bit more complex. The quick format will mark the space on your hard drive as free, allowing you to store new files on that space.

However, unless you perform a full format, some of the files can be restored with a special utility.


What’s the difference between a quick format and a full format?

full format and quick format disk formatting

Quick format is faster and it will delete the file system structure, but not the data itself. This will free up space on your hard drive, and allow you to write new data to it. Bear in mind that some of your data can be restored with a special recovery software after a quick format.

A full format will fully erase the data on your partition, and it will write zeroes to each sector of the drive, thus making your data unrecoverable. Due to this, the full format process lasts longer than a quick format.


Can I format a disk without losing data?

It’s technically possible, but it might not work well in practice. Basically, you need to perform a quick format on the desired partition. If you choose the full format, you won’t be able to restore your files.

After doing that, you need to use a file recovery software and try to restore the files from the formatted drive. Keep in mind that you might not be able to restore all of your files, especially if you’ve added new data to the drive.