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How to Format External Hard Drive for Windows 10?

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Aug 04, 2023 • Filed to: Answer Hard Drive Problems • Proven solutions

You might already know that Windows 10 is the most popular operating system for desktops out there. Though, if you want to use your external hard disk on Windows 10, then you need to format it in a compatible file system. Don’t worry – it is pretty easy to format a hard drive for Windows 10 and you can do it on Windows or even a Mac. In this post, I will let you know how to format a hard drive for Windows 10 without any compatibility issues.

Compatible Hard Drive File Formats for Windows

In any hard drive, there is a file system that defines how the partitioning is done or the way data is stored in the disc. Just like every other operating system, Windows also supports the following file formats for the hard drive.

FAT32: This is one of the oldest file systems that is allocated to external storage units (like USB drives). In this, the maximum size for a single file can be 4 GB and is used to transfer data to older systems. It is recommended for USB drives with 32 GB or lesser storage.

exFAT: This is a more universal file system as it is supported by both Mac and Windows. It can record file changes and has optimum partitioning style, but might not be compatible with older devices. It is recommended for drives with more than 32 GB of storage.

NTFS: Stands for New Technology File System, it is the default file system for Windows and can accommodate large files easily. The format is recommended to avoid data corruption, assign permissions, and even supports encryption.

Hard Drive Formatting

Compatible Hard Drive File Formats for macOS

Just like Windows, you can format a hard drive in the following file systems on macOS:

FAT and exFAT: These are the only two file formats supported by macOS that are compatible with Windows 10. Please note that you can’t format hard drive for Windows 10 in NTFS using the native apps in Mac as of now.

HFS+: It stands for Hierarchical File System and can easily accommodate large files with a Unicode system. For a long time, this used to be the native file system in macOS.

APFS: Newly released, this is now the default system for macOS High Sierra or newer versions. It stands for Apple File System and has advanced partitioning, security, and user permission features.

APFS File System

How to Format a Hard Drive for Windows 10 on Windows 10?

If you have been using a hard drive on Mac, then it can have a file format that is not supported by Windows 10. For instance, HFS or APFS file formats would not be supported by your Windows 10 system. Therefore, to learn how to format a hard drive for Windows 10 that was initialized on Mac, you can follow the two methods to format the external hard drive on Windows OS.

If you are interested in How to Format External Hard Drive for Mac And PC, you can click the link to seek more details.

1 Format it via the Disk Management Tool

If you are a Windows user, then you might be familiar with the Disk Management tool that helps us format, defragment, and manage our drives. You can learn how to format an external hard drive on Windows 10 in the following way.

1. At first, just launch the Disk Management tool by looking for it from the search option. If you want, you can also launch it by entering the “diskmgmt.msc” command in the Run prompt.

Open Disk Managment

2. Great! Once the Disk Management application is opened, you can view the details of the connected drive at the bottom. Simply select the drive, right-click, and choose the “Format” option.

Disk Management Interface

3. This will open a dedicated wizard to format the hard drive on Windows 10. Here, make sure that the file system is NTFS or exFAT that is supported by Windows 10 while formatting the drive.

Disk Management Formatting

2 Format any Drive via the DISKPART Command

In case your system can’t detect the attached device or the Disk Management tool can’t yield the expected results, then use the DISKPART command. The Disk Partition is a utility command that would let you clean and format the hard drive easily. To learn how to format a hard drive for Windows 10 via DISKPART, follow these steps:

1. To begin with, you can just go to the Start menu, look for Command Prompt, and launch it as an administrator.

2. Once the Command Prompt application is launched, just enter the “diskpart” command to load the utility program.

Diskpart Command Loading

3. After loading the Disk Partition scheme, enter the “list disk” command to view the details of all the internal and external drives.

Diskpart Command List Disk

4. From here, just identify the source you wish to format and use the select command. That is, type the “select” command followed by the disk identifier (like select disk 2).

Diskpart Command Select Drive

5. Once the disk is selected, just type and enter the “clean” command that would erase all the data of the drive.

Diskpart Command Clean

6. After cleaning the disk, enter the “create partition primary” command to create a primary partition for it.

Diskpart Command Create Parition

7. In the end, you can enter the format command followed by the desired file system. For instance, to format it in the NTFS scheme, you can enter the “format fs=ntfs” command.

Diskpart Command Format Drive

How to Format a Hard Drive for Windows 10 on macOS?

You don’t need to use a Windows system to format a hard drive for Windows 10. This is because Mac can also format an external hard drive in Windows-supported file systems like exFAT and FAT. For this, you can take the assistance of Disk Utility, which is the native application in Mac. To learn how to format a hard drive for Windows on Mac, follow this basic drill.

Step 1 Launch the Disk Utility application

You can just go to the Spotlight search on your Mac and look for “Disk Utility” to directly open the application. Besides that, you can also browse to Mac’s Applications > Utility and launch Disk Utility from here.

Mac Disk Utility

Step 2 Select the Drive to Format

Once the Disk Utility application is launched, you can find the internal and external drives/partitions on the sidebar. From here, just select the external hard drive and click on the “Erase” button on the toolbar.

Mac Disk Utility Erase

Step 3 Format the Drive in a Windows-supported format

This will open a new window for formatting the drive. Click on the Format dropdown option and select exFAT or FAT as the file system of your choice. After that, you can change its name or the partitioning scheme (if needed) and choose to format the drive.

Mac Disk Utility File Format

In the end, you can select the desired level of security that you wish to apply while formatting the drive.

Mac Disk Utility Security Level

Now, you can just wait for a while and let your Mac format the hard drive for Windows 10. When the formatting is done, the Disk Utility application will let you know.

Mac Disk Utility Formatting Done

You may also like: Top 6 Hard Drive Disk Wiper/Wipe Software

How to Recover Data from Erased/Wiped External Hard Drive?

It is commonly seen that people lose their precious files because of formation. And they end up with regret about not having a backup copy. If the tragedy has happened, it is advised that you use Wondershare Recoverit to restore your formatted external hard drive. 5 million global users are toasting for its quality. You can also have a quick download through the following link and follow the video guide to regain your files.

Recent Videos from Recoverit

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Final Words

I’m sure that after reading this post, you would be able to format a hard drive for Windows 10 in different ways. To make things easier for you, I have included detailed tutorials to format an external hard drive for Windows 10 on Mac or Windows. Go ahead and try these methods and share this guide with others to teach them how to format a hard drive for Windows 10 like a pro.

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