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How to format/formating/partition/partioning a hard drive with Windows XP?
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How to partition and format a hard disk in Windows XP

This article describes how to partition and format a hard disk with Microsoft Windows XP. Learn about your partitioning and formatting options, what to consider before you partition or format your hard disk, and how to partition and format your hard disk. Additionally, this article contains links to resources that can help you troubleshoot if problems occur.

INTRODUCTION
This step-by-step article describes how to partition and format a hard disk with Windows XP.

Before you can install an operating system, you must first create a primary partition on the first physical hard disk (Disk 0) on your computer, and then format a file system on that partition. This partition is named the System partition. Alternatively, you can create a separate partition for the operating system on any physical hard disk. This is named the startup partition. The System partition on Disk 0 can also be used as a startup partition
Options for partitioning and formatting your hard disk
You can use the Microsoft Windows XP Setup program or the Fdisk and Format tools to partition and format System and startup partitions.

For additional information about how to use Fdisk and Format to partition and format your hard disk, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

How to use the Fdisk tool and the Format tool to partition or to repartition a hard disk

If your computer is already running Windows XP, and you want to create partitions other than the System or the startup partitions, you can use the Windows XP Disk Management tools.

For additional information about how to use the Windows XP Disk Management tools to partition and format your hard disk, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

How to use Disk Management to configure basic disks in Windows XP



Important things to consider before you partition and format your hard disk

Consider the following questions before you partition and format your hard disk:

  • Have you prepared the hard disk by following the manufacturer's instructions?

    Set the jumpers and the cabling according to the role of the hard disk (for example, master or subordinate) and make any required BIOS (or CMOS) changes. See the documentation that came with your hard disk and motherboard, or contact the manufacturers.

  • What type of file system do you want to use?

    You can use either the FAT or NTFS file systems.

    For additional information about the differences between the FAT and NTFS file systems, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    Overview of FAT, HPFS, and NTFS file systems Description of the FAT32 file system in Windows XP

  • Does the hard disk already contain data? If yes, have you backed up all your important data?

    If not, back up your data before you continue. When you partition and format a hard disk, all the data on that partition is permanently deleted. You can view current partition information without deleting your data.

    For additional information about how to use the backup utility or the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

    How to use the Backup utility to back up files and folders in Windows XP Home Edition

    How to use Backup to restore files and folders on your computer in Windows XP

    How to use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard

    How to use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard from CD-ROM

    How to use the Files and Settings Transfer Wizard Disk in Windows XP

  • Does the hard disk have a drive overlay or a disk management program?

    If your computer uses drive overlay software for large hard disk support, do not use the Windows XP Setup program to partition or to format the drive until you have verified Windows XP compatibility with the software manufacturer. If you do not know whether you have drive overlay software installed, contact the software manufacturer before you continue.
  • Do you have the floppy disks or the CD-ROMs that you need to reinstall your software?

    Make sure that you have the software so that you can reinstall your programs after you partition and format your drive. If you purchased an upgrade for a program, make sure that you have the full version of the original program. Many upgrades for programs require a compliance check before you can install the upgraded product. If you cannot find the original floppy disks or CD-ROMs, contact the software manufacturer before you continue.
  • Do you have updated device drivers backed up on storage other than the drive that you want to format and partition?

    If you have installed an updated device driver for your peripheral devices (for example, modems and printers), make sure that you back up the new driver for the device to a location other than the drive that you want to format and partition. Therefore, you can reinstall it after you install your operating system.
  • Can you start your computer from the CD-ROM drive?




How to partition and format your hard disk by using the Windows XP Setup program



Important If you follow these steps on a hard disk that is not empty, all the data on that hard disk is permanently deleted. We recommend that you back up your hard disk before you follow these steps.

To partition and format your hard disk by using the Windows XP Setup program:

1. Insert the Windows XP CD-ROM into your CD-ROM drive or DVD-ROM drive, or insert the first Windows XP Setup disk into the floppy disk drive, and then restart the computer.

Note To start your computer from the Windows XP CD-ROM (or from the startup disk), your computer must be configured to start from the CD-ROM drive, the DVD-ROM drive, or the floppy disk drive. In some cases, you may have to modify your computer's BIOS settings to set this configuration. For information about how to configure your computer to start from the CD-ROM drive, the DVD-ROM drive, or the floppy disk drive, see the documentation that is included with your computer, or contact the computer manufacturer.

2. If you are starting the computer from the Windows XP CD-ROM, select any options that are required to start the computer from the CD-ROM drive if you are prompted to do this.

Note If your hard disk controller requires a third-party original equipment manufacturer (OEM) driver, press F6 to specify the driver.

For additional information about how to use F6 to supply a third-party OEM device driver while the Windows Setup program is running, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

314859 Limited OEM driver support is available with F6 during Windows XP Setup If you are starting from the Windows XP Setup disks, insert each of the additional disks when you are prompted, and then press ENTER to continue after you insert each disk.

3. At the Welcome to Setup page, press ENTER.

4. Press F8 to accept the Windows XP Licensing Agreement.

5. If an existing Windows XP installation is detected, you are prompted to repair it. To bypass the repair, press ESC.

6. All the existing partitions and the unpartitioned spaces are listed for each physical hard disk. Use the ARROW keys to select the partition or the unpartitioned space where you want to create a new partition. Press D to delete an existing partition, or press C to create a new partition by using unpartitioned space. If you press D to delete an existing partition, you must then press L (or press ENTER, and then press L if it is the System partition) to confirm that you want to delete the partition. Repeat this step for each of the existing partitions that you want to use for the new partition. When all the partitions are deleted, select the remaining unpartitioned space, and then press C to create the new partition.

Note If you want to create a partition where one or more partitions already exist, you must first delete the existing partition or partitions, and then create the new partition.

7. Type the size in megabytes (MB) that you want to use for the new partition, and then press ENTER, or just press ENTER to create the partition with the maximum size.

8. Repeat Steps 4 and 5 to create additional partitions if you want them.

9. If you want to install Windows XP, use the ARROW keys to select the partition where you want to install Windows XP, and then press ENTER. If you do not want to format the partition and install Windows XP, press F3 two times to quit the Windows Setup program, and then do not follow the remaining steps. In this case, you must use a different utility to format the partition.

10. Select the format option that you want to use for the partition, and then press ENTER. You have the following options:

  • Format the partition by using the NTFS file system (Quick)
  • Format the partition by using the FAT file system (Quick)
  • Format the partition by using the NTFS file system
  • Format the partition by using the FAT file system
  • Leave the current file system intact (no changes)


The option to leave the current file system intact is not available if the selected partition is a new partition. The FAT file system option is not available if the selected partition is more than 32 gigabytes (GB). If the partition is larger than 2 GB, the Windows Setup program uses the FAT32 file system (you must press ENTER to confirm). If the partition is smaller than 2 GB, the Windows Setup program uses the FAT16 file system.

Note If you deleted and created a new System partition, but you are installing Windows XP on a different partition, you will be prompted to select a file system for both the System and startup partitions. 11. After the Windows Setup program formats the partition, follow the instructions that appear on the screen to continue. After the Windows Setup program is completed, you can use the Disk Management tools in Windows XP to create or format more partitions.

For additional information about how to use the Windows XP Disk Management tools to partition and format your hard disk, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

How to use Disk Management to configure basic disks in Windows XP


Troubleshooting

For additional information about how to troubleshoot partition problems in Windows XP, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

Windows XP does not recognize all available disk space

Cannot view NTFS logical drive after using Fdisk

Maximum partition size using the FAT16 file system in Windows XP

How to use Convert.exe to convert a partition to the NTFS file system

During Setup you are unable to format a partition with a File Allocation Table format

How to change drive letter assignments in Windows XP

How to remove the Linux LILO Boot Manager

REFERENCES

For additional information, click the following article numbers to view the articles in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

Definition of System partition and Boot partition

The default cluster size for the NTFS and FAT file systems

Description of the FAT32 file system in Windows XP
The purpose of the Boot.ini file in Windows XP

For additional information about how to create and manage partitions in Windows XP, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:

How to install and use the Recovery Console in Windows XP


APPLIES TO

  • Microsoft Windows XP Home Edition
  • Microsoft Windows XP Professional Edition

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