We're going to be looking at how to reformat and partition your Hard Disk Drive (HDD) using Microsoft's Windows Vista and Windows 7. Since these two OS have disk management software embedded in the OS, there is no need for third-party applications such as Partition Magic or Norton's Parted Magic software.

Step 1

To open the management portion of Vista or 7, right click on the computer icon on your desktop, type compmgmt.msc command in run or DOS, or if you're using the new start bar design, you can right click on computer and choose manage.

Any way you do this, you will have to click "Yes" to the User Account Controls (UAC) in order to proceed into the management services.

Step 2

You'll want to navigate to Disk Management on the left hand side menu and wait for all of your drives to load.

As you can see from the image above. There are three Hard Drive Partitions, one for C:, E:, and D: (which is an external HDD plugged in via USB). C: has 73.53GB of space on it, E: has 1021 MB of space on it, and D: has 149.05GB of space on it. Let us say for the sake of argument that E: partition is in FAT32 format and we want it to be formatted in NTFS....

A brief history of NTFS and FAT 32... NTFS is called the New Technology Filing System and FAT is called the File Allocation Table.


Pros Cons
File Compression built in Is more complex than FAT32
Saves Disk space by arranging cluster sizes more efficiently Slower writing speeds than FAT32 systems
More stable  
It supports Disk Quotas, allowing you to choose the amount of disk user on a per user basis  


Pros Cons
Faster disk writing speeds than NTFS Less stable
Easier to manage Poor disk space management
More user friendly Doesn't support file compression
  Has a 137GB limit for ATA drives
  Slows down as you will up the drive.

All in all, NTFS is the way to go. A small sacrifice in disk speed is well worth the reliability of the NTFS format. FAT32 is outdated these days anyhow, flash drives and some external HDD are formatted in FAT32 and most new computers are formatted under the NTFS system. As an example of the FAT32 format's inability to save disk space, think of a 1KB text document; NTFS will save it and put 2KB on the disk as a backup, whereas FAT32 will take that 1KB and turn it into 32KB with 31KB not in use.

Step 3

Let us say we want to reformat our E: partition from FAT32 into NTFS. First things first, we need to click on the drive in question, in this case the E: drive. Then we want to right click on the E: drive or the windows that represents its free space, size, etc... The highlighted areas basically.... Select the format option.

You have the choice of renaming the HDD if you desire, and can also change the file system to NTFS, -- duh -- FAT32, or FAT (you don't want!). You can also choose to perform a quick format which isn't recommended because, well, you're rushing a change of the file system on a HDD, you don't want to rush that do you? You can also enable file and folder compression as well, this will add time to the procedure of course.

Upon clicking OK, windows will prompt you saying that everything on this partition (or HDD if it's a complete drive) will be erased and once the process is started cannot be undone or stopped without some consequence. Back everything up on that particular drive if you're reformatting a partition and if you're reformatting a whole HDD, back up the files that you wish to keep because once they're gone, they're really gone and no file recovery software, system restores, etc... will recover the files. Naahhh!! I'm just trying to scare you all!! You can find software that will recover files and such, but it will cost you! If you lose some files that you want to recover, click on any of the three links below!!




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