How to Partition & Format HDD Outside of a Machine


Installing a hard drive in a computer is inconvenient if that computer will not be the drive's permanent home. If you are building computers for friends, family or clients, use an external hard drive docking (HDD) station to partition and format your hard drives before installing them into a machine.

Things You'll Need

  • Hard drive
  • External hard drive docking station
  • Plug the docking station into your computer and into a power outlet.

  • Insert the hard drive into the docking station. You should hear a click as the hard drive spins up.

  • Click the "Start" button, then click "Control Panel." Double-click "Administrative Tools" and "Computer Management." Find "Disk Management" on the left side of the screen and click on it. On the right area of the screen, you will see visual representations of every hard drive, including the one connected to the docking station.

  • Right-click on the area representing the hard drive connected to the docking station (it should say "Unallocated Space"), and click "New Partition."

  • Select the amount of the drive's total space that should be devoted to the partition. In most cases, the drive's entire capacity should be used.

  • Select the FAT32 or NTFS file system for your partition. If you are not sure which to choose, select NTFS.

  • Give your hard drive a volume label. If you would prefer not to, click "Next."

  • Click "Finish" to partition and format the drive as you have specified. Disk Management will give you a chance to confirm your selections before performing this operation.

Tips & Warnings

  • Many docking stations are available to connect internal hard drives to a computer externally, and they can be purchased from most electronics stores that sell computer hardware.
  • Avoid any docking station that cannot handle both desktop and notebook hard drives. Although an external SATA docking station will provide the best performance, USB 2.0 solutions are fast enough for simply setting drives up.

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