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Formatting Hard Drive in DOS - How to Format Your Hard Drive

Prashant Magar Oct 7, 2018
If you want to get rid of a malware or simply wish to reformat your computer, formatting the hard disk is a viable option. Know how to format your hard drive in MS-DOS.
The following situation requires a complete format of the hard drive. If you are installing the drive for the first time in the system; there are errors detected in the storage and the functioning which need to be removed.
There also exists data which has to be removed completely to make way for new space; to sell or donate your system and the most common reason is to get rid of unwanted software, virus, worms or any such malicious components.
A formatting process is nothing but preparing a system for storing data. This includes reading and writing information on a disk of high-capacity for long-term access and availability. So, what exactly does formatting do to a hard disk drive?
A format procedure erases data that has been stored on the memory storage of the disk, run a test to determine that the disk is secured from any damage due to corrupt segments, marks out these segments as bad sectors, ensures the reliability of the safe sectors, and facilitates creation of tabled data of locations for quick location of data stored in it.

How to Format Your Hard Drive

Before the actual formatting procedure, it is very essential to set the goals clear and perform a hard drive data recovery. Quite often, you desire to simply get the disk working properly without affecting the data stored on it. 
In such cases, the first step would be to get a backup of maximum data onto some other storage devices like CDs, DVDs, USB pen drives and other such devices. Ensure that all the critical set-up like the windows operating system, hardware drivers and software CDs are at hand. Once the format is over, you need to install these again.
The drive can be partitioned in order to allocate space for different contents by using the partitioning process. You have to make a boot disk or a start disk to get started with the process.
On restarting, the PC the screen will be the command window with the following text:

A:\> prompt.
In front of this text type in,
Format /?

On typing this command you will get a list of options along with the functions they perform. Take help accordingly and perform the required formatting. The options would be as follows.

FORMAT drive: [/V[:label]] [/Q] [/F:size] [/B | /S] [/C]
FORMAT drive: [/V[:label]] [/Q] [/T:tracks /N:sectors] [/B | /S] [/C]

FORMAT drive: [/V[:label]] [/Q] [/1] [/4] [/B | /S] [/C]

FORMAT drive: [/Q] [/1] [/4] [/8] [/B | /S] [/C]
  • V[:label] - Specifies the volume label.
  • /Q - Performs a quick format.
  • /F:size - Specifies the size of the floppy disk to format (such as 160, 180, 320, 360, 720, 1.2, 1.44, 2.88).
  • /B - Allocates space on the formatted disk for system files.
  • /S - Copies system files to the formatted disk.
  • /T:tracks - Specifies the number of tracks per disk side.
  • /N:sectors - Specifies the number of sectors per track.
  • /1 - Formats a single side of a floppy disk.
  • /4 - Formats a 5.25-inch 360K floppy disk in a high-density drive.
  • /8 - Formats eight sectors per track.
  • /C - Tests clusters that are currently marked "bad."
After this format the partitioned drives. For example, to format drive C enter the command 'Format C' in the DOS prompt. The command should be as exactly as follows.


This command will format drive C and additionally store all system files on C drive. This can follow with the other drives as

A:\> FORMAT E: and so on...
Thus, formatting the hard drive in DOS is complete, and you are ready to use the system afresh.