How To Format an External Hard Drive

Dear Computer Lady,

How do I go about reformating a Seagate external hard drive to use on my new laptop?

I Was using it with my XP desktop.

Thanks, Shirley

Dear Shirley,

It is actually pretty easy to format an external hard drive, but I do have to stress that when you do this, everything on the drive will be erased.

As long as you have the files on the external hard drive stored someplace elese and you are ready to format it (and erase it in the process) lets’ get started.

First, plug the drive into your new laptop. I am guessing that it is a USB connection, so you would plug the USB cable from the hard drive into your laptop.

Now open your “My Computer” window. You should see your external hard drive listed with your other drives.

Note: Make sure you are working on the external hard drive, and NOT your local drives. If you are in doubt, unplug the external hard drive and make a note of which drive is gone from the “My Comptuer” window.

Right click on the external hard drive, and click on “Format…” in the context menu that appears.

A formatting dialog box will open. Just click the “Start” button near the bottom. A warning dialog box will appear, asking you if you are sure you want to erase everything on the disk. If you are sure, click the “OK” button and your disk format will start.

Keep in mind, that a large disk might take a few hours before the format is finished.



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Elizabeth Boston is a Web designer, Social Media Consultant and managing editor of, “Ask The Computer Lady”.
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