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How to Format a Hard Drive with Windows XP

If you want to throw out that old computer but worry about someone accessing your information, this guide will wipe your hard drive clean.


  • Step 1: Back up files Back up important files or transfer them to your new computer before formatting the drive.
  • TIP: Use a USB flash drive or your computer's recordable disk drive to back up your files.
  • Step 2: Click on Start Click on the Start or Windows icon button and then click on Control Panel from the pop-up menu.
  • Step 3: Select System and Maintenance Select System and Maintenance and then scroll down to click on Administrative Tools.
  • Step 4: Double-click on Computer Management Double-click on Computer Management, and then select Disk Management under Storage from the Navigation Pane on the left side of the new window.
  • Step 5: Right-click on the drive Right-click on the drive you wish to format and select Format from the drop-down menu.
  • Step 6: Choose Format option Choose to format the drive either in NTFS or FAT 32 and then either a full or quick format.
  • TIP: A full format is recommended as a quick format does not completely erase the drive.
  • Step 7: Wait Wait for the computer to finish before doing anything else. A full format of your primary drive may take several hours, so be patient.
  • FACT: A recent Gallup poll found that identity theft topped the crime concern list with 66 percent of Americans worrying they will be a victim.

You Will Need

  • Basic computer navigation skills
  • Patience
  • USB flash drive (optional)

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