Manually format a disk/partition (Windows)

Problem

Format a disk or partition in Windows through command line

tl;dr

C:\> diskpart
list disk
select disk X
clean
create partition primary
list partition
select partition X
format fs=ntfs quick

This will erase all data on the disk and create a single NTFS partition. X is the number of your disk or partition.

Solution

When dealing with Windows, normally the easiest way to do most disk management tasks is through its Disk Management utility. However, sometimes you may need to do it manually through the command line, such as when attempting to restore your system.

Diskpart

Diskpart is the utility used to do so. To start it, log in to command prompt (cmd.exe) and type Diskpart:

 C:\> diskpart

To see your active disks:

list disk

You will see a table such as this:

DISKPART> list disk

  Disk ###  Status            Size      Free   Dyn  Gpt
  --------  -------------  -------   --------  ---  ---
  Disk 0    Online          465 GB        0 B
  Disk 1    Online          111 GB        0 B

If you want to work on Disk 0, for example, then you have to select it:

select disk 0

Then you can see what partitions exist on it via list partition. It will show a table similar to list disk above.

list partition

Select the partition you need:

select partition 1

To format it:

format fs=ntfs quick

Format Arguments

Add the following after format:

fs=FILESYSTEM_TYPE - filesystem, i.e. ntfs, fat32. Example:

format fs=ntfs

quick - quick format; writes new address table but does not erase any data. Example:

format quick

Create new partition

If there are no partitions on disk, you have to create one manually:

select disk 1
clean
create partition primary
select partition 1

clean erases all formatting on the disk, such as partitions or filesystems.


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