How to Securely Format a Hard Drive in Windows 10

Windows 10 has a built-in utility for securely removing data from a hard drive. This is a good option to use when disposing, selling, or donating your hard drive. Follow along with the steps below to erase a hard drive and make its data unrecoverable.

There are two ways you can securely erase your hard drive – either with a graphical menu or the Windows command prompt. We’ll go over the step by step instructions for both methods below. Just pick whichever you are more comfortable with, as the final results will be the same.

Note that these methods can’t be used to erase the C: drive, as it would be in use while trying to be erased. However, you can use a Windows recovery disk and format from the command prompt as shown in the second method.

Erase Hard Drive in Disk Management

1. Access Windows 10’s Disk Management utility by searching for it in the Start menu.

Open disk management from Start menu

2. From here, right click on the drive you wish to erase and click “format.”

Right click a hard drive and select format

3. Be sure to uncheck the “Perform a quick format” option, as that does not securely erase the disk’s data. Then press OK.

Uncheck the quick format option

4. The disk will now be erased and reformatted, with its previous data rendered unrecoverable. This process may take quite a while, depending on your computer and the size of the hard drive.

Disk format progress in Disk Management menu

Erase Hard Drive in Command Prompt

1. Open a command prompt and launch the DISKPART (disk partition) utility with the following command.

diskpart

2. Find the volume number for the hard disk you wish to erase.

list vol

3. Select the appropriate volume. For example, we’ll select volume 5.

select vol 5

4. Finally, issue the following command to securely erase all of the disk’s data and reformat it as a new NTFS partition.

format fs=ntfs label="new volume"

Securely erasing hard drive with diskpart utility

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