How to Format a Hard Drive

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Note - The directions below are a general guideline on formatting a hard drive. The specific names and options seen in the BIOS screen differ slightly between motherboards and their manufacturers. Please consult your motherboard manual for the exact names. If you prefer a video guide, please see our Operating Installation Video here.

1. Begin by turning on the computer (or restarting it if it is already on) and press the "Delete" button on the keyboard several times as the computer begins to start up. Some motherboards use a key other than "Delete" to enter the BIOS, which is why its important to check your manual.

Delete Key

2. After pressing the Delete key, your computer should take you to a screen that looks like the one below. This is called the Basic Input Output Services (BIOS) screen. From here we will tell the computer which device to boot from the next time to computer is started.

BIOS Screen

3. Using the keyboard directional arrows (the mouse won't do anything), arrow down to "Advanced BIOS Features" and press Enter.

Advanced BIOS Features Screen

4. On this screen, use the down arrow on the keyboard to highlight the "First Boot Device" option and press Enter.

Selecting First Boot Device Screen

5. Selct the CD Drive as the first boot device from this menu and press Enter. At this point, open your CD/DVD drive and place your operating system disk inside (if your computer has two CD/DVD drives that is okay because the computer will automatically check both drives for the Operating System CD so you can place the disc in either drive).

Select First Boot Device Screen

6. Now press the "Esc" (escape) key a few times to return to the BIOS main screen and select the "Save and Exit Setup" option on the right-hand side. The computer will ask you if you are sure, select "Yes" and the computer will restart.

7. This time, do not press the Delete key as the computer boots up and it will take you to a screen that looks like the one shown below.

Boot from CD Screen

8. Once the screen shows "Press any key to boot from CD. ." press any key on the keyboard (note that there is no specific key called "Any Key" on the keyboard for those Homer Simpson fans out there :) and the computer will start loading the files from the Operating System CD.

9. Follow the on screen instructions as the Operating System is installed.

10. Once the process is finished, remove the Operating System disk from your CD/DVD drive and the next time you start or restart the computer, press the Delete key as it loads to enter the BIOS main screen again and change the First Boot Device option back to the hard disk. This way, the computer will look for the bootable files on your hard drive rather than in the CD drive.

11. Thats all there is to it, you've just formatted a hard drive!

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