C drive format command: 4 Ways on How to Format C Drive in Windows 10/7/XP.

4 Ways on How to Format C Drive in Windows 10/7/XP.

• Filed to: Hard Drive Recovery • Proven solutions

“How to Format C Drive in Windows 10? Recently, I attempted to format my C drive on my Windows PC to install a newer version of Windows 10, but I failed to do so and instead got an error message that “You cannot format this volume.” Can I format C drive on my computer without any obstacle?”

— a question from Quora

C drive holds a significant position in a Windows PC; it is the primary disk volume where the operating system is stored, and it is the first place in which the system offers you to install third-party programs. To Format C drive is a complicated procedure with many strings attached. It means that you are erasing the operating system and all the computer’s information on C disk along with it, and there’s no way the OS will allow you to reformat C drive with ‘Windows Explorer.’

Fortunately, there are four ways you can reformat C drive without making it intricate, and after reading this guide, you will learn them all.

  • Part 1: Can I Format My ‘C’ Drive?

  • Part 2: How to Format ‘C’ Drive in Windows 10?

  • Part 3: What will Happen If I Format My ‘C’ Drive?

  • Part 4: Bonus – Recover Old Files from ‘C’ Drive after Format.

Part 1: Can I Format C Drive?

“It’s a basic human instinct to be curious and test unchartered waters.”

One of the common questions most Windows users ask these days is whether they can format C drive of their computer or not. The answer is yes! You can format the primary disk of the OS but not in the way one thinks. You can not wipe the drive clean within the operating system, as it would mean deleting the entire OS and all of its system files, and Windows OS will not allow the formatting of C drive to occur.

However, there are other ways to format ‘C,’ which is doing it outside the operating system’s domain when booting the computer.

Part 2: How to Format C Drive in Windows 10?

Casually formatting your C drive is not recommend as it may cause complications. As difficult it may sound, there are some pretty simple options to format C drive, and here you will learn the top four methods to clean the disk, each of which is easy to follow with our extensive guide.

Alert! Please create a Back up of your Files:

First and foremost, it is suggested you save(back up) a copy of your valuable data to a safe location before executing a format on the C drive. Here are a few ways to protect your files:

  • Storing them in an external storage device(USB, external hard drive, SD card).

  • Saving and sharing the files through a cloud storage service (Dropbox, Google Drive).

  • Windows in-built data back up utility.

We strongly advise creating a back up of new files every week. It will help to overcome your fear of losing valuable personal information on the computer due to any mishap.

The recommended options to format C drive are as follows:

Option 1: Format C drive with Windows installation media:

Windows installation media is the utility used to upgrade the PC to a newer version of Windows 10 or to help create a bootable USB to install the OS on a different system. It also plays a pivotal role when you want to format C drive. For this method to work, you need a bootable USB with windows set up stored inside. Here are the steps:

  • Restart your PC.

  • Access the PC’s BIOS menus by clicking on F12 repeatedly upon startup.

  • Select the option “Boot from USB.” If you are using a disk, then choose “Boot from Disk.”

  • You will see the installation interface, where you’ll be asked to select the language.

  • After selecting the preferred language, click on Next.

  • Click on Install Now and select Custom: Install Windows only (advanced).

  • The interface will ask you the location to install the new version of Windows. Pick ‘C’ drive from the list and click on OK to Format. You can also click on the Format option directly from the menu.

  • The system will do its job and install a fresh version of Windows OS on your computer.

Option 2: Format C Drive via System Repair Disc:

You can format ‘C’ by using applying the format command on Windows’ command prompt utility via the System Repair Disc method. You will need a DVD or a USB to perform the process, which should at least have a storage space of 16 GB. Follow the step-by-step guide below to format C drive using cmd:

  • To create System Repair Disc, click on “Create a recovery drive” from the start menu.

  • Check the option “Back up the system file to the recovery drive” and click on Next. The interface will scan for the removable drive.

  • Select the USB/DVD and click on Next and then pick Create.

  • Once the utility creates the recovery disc, restart your PC and access the boot menu.

  • Select any language and click on Next.

  • A System Recovery Options window will open. Click on Use “Advanced options” and the next.

  • Select Command prompt from the menu and enter format c: /fs: NTFS and wait to format C drive.

  • Hit enter after writing the name of the new Volume label.

  • The utility will do its job and create file system structures. Once it is complete, remove the disc and shut down your computer.

  • Congratulations! Your ‘C’ will be formatted.

Option 3: Format C Drive via Recovery Console:

Before jumping on to the method to format C Drive with Recovery Console, it is essential to know what it is and in which version of Windows OS is it available.

The Recovery Console is a feature offered to the users by Microsoft on their Windows 2000 & Windows XP operating systems. It is used to perform specific tasks with a command-line interface such as cleaning the primary drive of the OS. Now, you will learn the method to format C drive on Windows XP:

  • Restart your system.

  • During the boot, wait for “Press any key to boot from CD” message and hit any key from the keyboard.

  • Windows XP will start to load files to format C drive.

  • Once you see the option, hit the ‘R’ key to enter the Recovery Console.

  • Windows XP command prompt will open.

  • Type the following command: format c: /fs: NTFS and hit the enter key to format C drive.

  • Press ‘Y’ to confirm the action and wait for the formatting to finish.

  • Restart your PC. That’s it!

Option 4: Format C Drive with a Diagnostic & Repair Utility:

Using a third-party diagnostic tool is one of the least popular options to format C drive. However, if you’re not happy with the solutions mentioned above, then you can use any program from the internet. It will guide you through everything.

Part 3: What will Happen If I Format C Drive?

Most of the time, an average PC user stores his operating system on the ‘C’ drive, which is also known as the primary disk. Once you format C drive, with the help of options mentioned above, your operating system will be wiped off from the hard drive. You’ll then have to reinstall Windows on your computer to gain access to the items available on the other discs (D & E). Furthermore, you should note that this action will delete every file on the “Desktop” and “My Documents-User’s” folder.

Part 4: Bonus – Recover Old Files from ‘C’ Drive after Format(iSkysoft-Recommended):

As described before, we highly endorse you create a back up of your data if you do not want to go through with any unnecessary hassle. However, if you realize after formatting the ‘C’ drive that the files inside were of value, then try using Recoverit (IS) for Windows. It can recover the formatted items in no time with near-perfect efficiency. iSkysoft toolbox is already becoming the most popular recovery program among Windows PC users due to its limitless features.

Here’s the three-step guide to recover lost files from a formatted ‘C’ drive on Windows PC.

Step 1 Select C Drive in the Application

Open iSkysoft recovery program from the start menu or by clicking the desktop icon. Select Local disk C from under the “Hard disk drives” section and click on Start. The application will start the data retrieval function.

Step 2 Wait For Scanning to Complete

C drive usually carries a lot of storage space, so you will have to wait for a few minutes until the application completes its work. You can pause or stop the scan any time you want. The minute the app completes its scan, you will get a pop-up message.

Step 3 Recover your Files:

You will be able to view the restored data under two categories (File Type & File Path). After availing the preview feature, click on the recover button and pick the location where you wish to save the retrieved content. Once you have recovered the intended file, close the application.

Closing Words:

Most users fear the consequences of formatting the drive where the operating system is primarily saved. No doubt, it is a risky attempt, and one must avoid it under normal circumstances. However, if you feel that the PC is not functioning properly or your system has been hit with some virus, malware, or ransomware, then you should format your drive. Now you know four easy ways to format ‘C’ drive and tackle the problem outside the vicinity of the functioning OS. If in any form of urgency, you want the formatted files back, then you can use Recoverit (IS) program for Windows to get all of them again.

Please feel free to share this experience amongst your family and friends if they are dealing with any such issue.

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How to delete or format C drive using Command Prompt

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Many users want to know how to format the System or C drive using Command Prompt. While Command Prompt makes it easy to format almost anything except the C drive where Windows is installed. In this post, we will share how you can delete the C drive from the command prompt – but not the usual way.

All this is assuming you can still boot into Windows 10 in a regular way. If you cannot, the only way is to use a bootable USB drive. You can then use the advanced recovery

  1. Reset Windows 10
  2. Format drive using Advanced Recovery
  3. Bootable USB Drive

You will have to use the Format command to format any partition. If you wish to delete a portion, then you can use the Diskpart Utility.

1] Reset Windows 10

Windows 10 offers a built-in solution that allows you to Reset or Refresh Windows 10 PC. While the later is when you need to get rid of all extra stuff on the computer, the form allows you to clean wipe the PC, but keep Windows installed. That makes it easy to handover the computer.

This is not exactly the command prompt method but solves the purpose where you wanted to delete the C Drive.

2] Format drive using Advanced Recovery

You can boot into Advanced Recovery from Windows without the need for a bootable drive.

Open Windows 10 Settings > Update and Security > Recovery > Advanced Startup. Click on Restart Now button and it will take you directly into Advanced Recovery.

Here you can choose to open a command prompt, and then use the FORMAT command to delete everything from the C Drive.

You can also use the Diskpart tool to delete partitions and create a new one from the scratch.

3] Bootable USB Drive

If you are unable to boot into your computer for any reason, and you need to format everything, then the only option is Bootable USB Drive.

It will take you to the advanced recovery where you follow the same option as above.  You can also use it to reinstall Windows 10 which will in turn format everything on the computer.

Formatting or Deleting the C Drive i.e. Reseting Windows 10 is easy now.

You can follow any of these methods, but make sure to always take a backup of all the files on your computer. Once the formatting is complete, you will not be able to recover data.


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Published Date: Tags: Drives

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Ashish holds a Bachelor’s in Computer Engineering and is a veteran Windows and Xbox user. He has work experience as a Database and Microsoft.NET Developer. He has been a Microsoft MVP (2008-2010) and excels in writing tutorials to improve the day-to-day experience with your devices.

How to format drive C

  1. Hello everyone! I urgently needed to format the C drive on one computer : with Windows 10 installed, how to do it in the fastest way?
  2. Hello, can you tell me how to remove the C: drive? I want to sell a laptop, the new owner wanted it to be clean, that is, without an operating system. Windows 8.1 is now installed. I don’t have any Windows installation discs or flash drives.

Hello friends! If your laptop is running Windows 8. 1 or Windows 10, then formatting or deleting the C: drive is very simple, but keep in mind that deleting and formatting are two different things.

If you simply delete the C: drive with the installed operating system, then any user can restore it (and very quickly) with all your files using this article of ours. The recovery will take place in such a way that your Windows 8.1 will boot and all your files, passwords, and so on will get to strangers.

Formatting the C: drive is another matter; in this case, little can be recovered.

  • Note: If you are selling a laptop, you can reset it to factory settings, or restore Windows 8.1 to its original state without saving personal files.

If you are determined to format or delete the C: drive, then read on.

For example, let’s take my laptop with Windows 8.1 installed.

Press the key « Shift » and without releasing it, we reboot the laptop.

The recovery environment is loading, select «Diagnostics»

«Advanced options»

«Command line»

In the command line, enter the commands:


lis vol (we display a list of all partitions and see that Uolume 1 (Volume 1) , this is disk C: with Windows 8. 1 installed. Focus on the name or volume, most often drive C: comes first or second in this list, if you want, you can directly enter the C: drive on the command line and see all system folders: Windows, Program Files).

sel vol 1 (select Volume 1)

format quick fs=NTFS (format C: drive to NTFS file system, you can apply option quick format )

Formatting completed successfully.

After this formatting operation, it will be very difficult to restore anything on your laptop.

How to delete drive C: without formatting

recovery environment and enter commands


lis vol (we display a list of all partitions and see that Volume 1, this is drive C: with Windows 8.1 installed)

sel vol 1 (select Volume 1)

del vol override (we delete drive C:)

Removal completed successfully.

After this removal of the C: drive, it can be restored along with all the files.

How to format a hard drive — Lifehacker



June 30, 2021

Learn the ins and outs of cleaning on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

What you need to know before formatting a hard drive

Formatting is the process of clearing a drive and deleting all data. There are two types of this procedure: full and fast. The latter is usually used as it takes much less time. The difference is that a quick format creates a new boot record and partition table, while a full format also erases all content beyond recovery.

A full format should be done if sensitive data is to be destroyed or if any errors occur after a quick wipe.

Since formatting involves deleting all files, you cannot format the partition and drive on which the operating system is installed: it cannot delete itself. In such cases, use a bootable USB flash drive or DVD so that the formatting utility is launched from another disk.

The type of hard disk file system also plays an important role. If everything worked well before formatting, it’s better to leave the old one. And if you are going to change the file system type, then you should follow the recommendations of the OS. In general, it is necessary to proceed from this:

  • NTFS is fine if the drive will only be used with Windows.
  • APFS is desirable when only Mac connection is planned.
  • Ext4 — if it is supposed to work exclusively with Linux computers.
  • FAT or exFAT are ideal if you want maximum compatibility with all operating systems.

How to format the main hard disk or its partition

Formatting the system partition or hard disk (if it is not partitioned) may be necessary only when installing the OS. After formatting, in any case, you will have to install the operating system. Therefore, it does not make sense to consider this option separately. If you are going to format the drive to reinstall the OS, use our step-by-step instructions for Windows, macOS and Linux.

How to format a second hard drive or its partition

Formatting an additional partition, say, drive D in Windows, as well as a second internal or external drive is completely safe and does not affect OS files. But you should be aware that the entire contents of the formatted disk will be deleted. Therefore, if there is important data on it, they must first be copied to another drive.

There are various utilities for formatting hard drives, but the corresponding function is also available in any OS. Built-in tools work easier and are less likely to make a mistake, so in this article we will consider them.

How to format a hard drive in Windows

Method 1

Open the «This PC» menu, right-click on the desired drive and click «Format».

Select a file system, name it, and check the box next to Fast. Click «Start».

Confirm the deletion of data on the disk by clicking OK.

After a few seconds, a formatting completion message will appear and the drive will be ready to use.

Method 2

If the drive has a file system that is not supported by Windows, it will not appear in Explorer and formatting as described above will fail. In this case, you need to act through the standard Disk Management utility.

To launch it, press the key combination Win + R. Type or paste in the «Open» field diskmgmt.msc and click OK.

Based on the size, select the desired disc from the panel below. Call the context menu by clicking on the right mouse button and click «Format».

Assign a name, specify the file system type and check the «Quick Format» option. Click OK.

Press OK again to confirm. After a few seconds, the drive will be formatted and ready to go.

How to format a hard drive in macOS

Launch Disk Utility from the Applications → Utilities folder or via Spotlight search. Click on the side menu icon and select Show All Devices.

Highlight the desired drive and click the «Erase» button.

Enter a name, select a format, and click Erase.

Please wait, the disc will be ready for use shortly.