Easy Steps to Formatting Your Portable Hard Drive For Use With Windows XP

Published: 29th July 2008
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What Does It Mean To Format My Portable Hard Drive?

When you initially purchase your portable hard drive or if you want to restore it to its original state, you must format it. Formatting prepares your portable hard drive for its first use, erasing any existing data in the process.

Backing Up Your Portable Hard Drive

The first step in formatting your portable hard drive is to back up any data that you have on your drive. If you are formatting a new drive you can skip this step, but if you are re-formatting an existing drive, make sure to copy all of your files to another drive before continuing.

Step-By-Step Instructions

After you have backed up your existing files, follow the instructions below to format your portable hard drive. There are many ways to format your drive, but as long as you are only going to be using Windows XP, below are the quickest and easiest steps:

1) Double-Click on the My Computer icon

2) Using the right mouse button, click on your portable hard drive

3) You will now see the "Format Menu"

There are a variety of options to choose from on the Format Menu, and to a novice they can look very confusing and cryptic, but the truth is, the only option you might want to change is the "Volume Label." This can be helpful for identification, because when you plug your portable hard drive into another computer, it doesn't always retain the same drive letter.

Choose something you'll easily recognize, like "Portable Hard Drive." Then, just click Start! At this point, Windows informs you in BIG BOLD LETTERS that all the data on your disk will be erased if you continue. But you're not worried about that, because you already backed up all your data as described earlier.

Simply ignore all the warnings and exclamation points and click OK.

The blue status bar at the bottom of the Format Menu starts ticking away, indicating that your drive is currently being formatted.

A cool wave of relief washes over you as you wipe the sweat from your brow, realizing that your job is done. You've done some hard work, but you've done it right. Now the only thing left to do is wait.

Waiting For Your Portable Hard Drive to Finish Formatting

Do not unplug your portable hard drive or try copying anything to it while it is formatting. This can sometimes require a lot of patience. You've come all this way and done your part, and you're ready to go. Now you have to let your computer do its part, and depending on the size of your portable hard drive and the speed of your computer, it can take a while.

Nothing is worse than just sitting there watching it. Go buy yourself a slice of pizza. When you come back you want to see a dialog box letting you know your format is complete. Just click OK, and your portable hard drive is ready to go!

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