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While most external hard drives are already designed to work for Windows computers, there are times when you need to reformat one. You might want a drive that works with Macs and PCs. Here’s how to format an external hard drive for Windows 10.

How to Format a Hard Drive for Windows 10

Note: Formatting your drive will erase all the existing files on it. So if your external hard drive already has important files on it, make sure to back them up before proceeding.

  1. Connect your external hard drive to a Windows computer.
    If your external hard drive is working, your computer will automatically detect it, and the drive will appear under Devices and Drives next to your internal drives in the This PC Window. You can also find it in the left sidebar of File Explorer.

    Note: If you already used your external hard drive on a PC, be sure to back up any files on it. Formatting your drive will wipe out all the data in it.
  2. Right-click on the external hard drive and click Format.
  3. Choose a format under File System. By default, Windows computers will choose NTFS (New Technology File System) for you because that’s the native Microsoft filing system. But if you want the external hard drive to also work on a Mac OS, you should choose exFAT.

    Note: The exFAT file system only works on Mac 10.6.5 or later, and Windows XP SP3 or later.
  4. Check the Quick Format box, and click Start. Depending on the size of the drive, and if there are files to be deleted in it, this can take a few to several minutes to finish. 
  5. Click OK when the Format Complete pop-up screen appears.