How to format a hard drive or SSD in Windows 10

Last Update: December 23rd, 2020
Article ID: 620434

New hard drives and SSDs, including NVMe SSDs, need to be partitioned and formatted before the first use.  Windows will not prompt to format a blank drive when connected.

Start by installing the hard drive or SSD (referred to as "drive") into the Plugable hard drive dock or drive enclosure and connect it to the computer using the provided cables and power supply if applicable.

With the drive connected to the computer, we can create a partition table, and at least one partition, then format the partition.

  1. Right-click on the start menu and select Disk management from the pop-up menu
  2. If this is a new, blank drive, the system will prompt to initialize the drive by writing a partition table to the drive with the Initialize Diskdialog
    1. Uninitialized drives are listed under the Select disks: section, check all that apply
    2. For drives over 2TB GPT is required to access the full storage capability of the drive, we also recommend GPT for SSDs and drives used with other Windows 10 systems, MBR can be used for drives that need to be used with legacy Operating Systems, for example Windows XP
    3. Select OK to continue
  3. The drive currently has no partitions, right-click on the Unallocated space and select New Simple Volume... from the drop-down menu to start the New Simple Volume Wizard
    1. At the introductory screen, select Next to continue
    2. At the Specify Volume Size screen, select Next to continue with the default value
    3. At the Assign Drive Letter or Path screen, select Next  to use the default values, this will assign the next available drive letter to the new partition
    4. At the Format Partition screen, select the File system from the drop down menu, NTFS is the default and works well with Windows computers, exFAT is also compatible with macOS and Linux*.  A Volume label can also be entered on this screen, this is the name of the drive.  We recommend leaving the other options at the default values, Quick Format should be checked
    5. Select Finish to start the formatting, it should complete within a few seconds to a minute depending on the drive
  4. The drive should now be accessible within Windows explorer under My Computer