May 28, 2024

Windows: Format a storage drive with CMD

Sometimes it is not possible to format a drive using the Windows built in format dialog. This can happen if the file system is severly damaged or a copy or delete job has been canceled unproperly.

Solution: Format the drive using CMD

WARNING: When formatting a drive, all files on this drive will be irrevocable deleted!

First start cmd.exe (Start >> Run >> cmd)

Now type in the format command and the drive letter of the drive you want to format. Use the parameter “fs” to specify the file system type of the formatted drive.

For example:

C:\Windows\system32> format X:\ fs NTFS

Or for example with FAT32:

C:\Windows\system32> format Y:\ fs FAT32

NTFS should be used for larger volumes like hard drives. NTFS is necessary if you want to store larger files.

FAT32 is recommended for smaller USB drives as on the one hand the file systems overhead is smaller, but on the other hand the size of a single file is limited to 4 gigabyte.

Formatting your drive may take – depending on the size of the drive – a few minutes (smaller USB drives) up to a few hours (large hard disk drives with a few terabyte).

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