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How to format an SSD to improve performance and protect your data

Solid-state drives (SSDs) are much faster than traditional hard drives. Thus, they can be used for a longer period of time and can also be repurposed on different systems. However, you should fully format the drive occasionally, especially if you are selling or giving away your SSD. Fully formatting the drive will return its performance close to when it was new and ensure your information never gets into the hands of someone else.

The best part is that the process is quite simple and does not require any experience. You do need to be cautious, though, as formatting your SSD deletes everything that is stored on it. Make sure that you have backed up any important data that you might need in the future and choose the correct SSD to format if you have multiple drives on your system.

Here is a simple guide that can help in formatting the SSD on a Windows PC.

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

5 minutes

What You Need

  • PC running on Windows

  • SSD

There are a bunch of third-party tools that can help you format a SSD. However, the built-in Windows Disk Management utility is capable of doing the same. It can also be used to create new partitions of your SSD.

How to format a SSD using Disk Management

Step 1: Open the Start menu, type diskmgmt.msc, and hit Enter to open the Disk Management utility.

Opening Disk Management utility on Windows 10 using Start menu.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: From the list of drives, select the SSD that you want to format. Make sure that you select the right SSD, as you will lose all of your data.

Screenshot of the Disk Management utility on Windows 10.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Once you have identified your SSD, right-click on it and select Format.

Screenshot of Disk Management utility to format SSD on Windows 10.
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Step 4: A new pop-up should open where you must select the File system as NTFS, Allocation unit size as Default, and uncheck the Perform a quick format box. If you wish, you can also rename your SSD by typing the name in front of the Volume label field.

Screenshot of Disk Management utility with ssd format options on Windows 10.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 5: Click OK to begin the format process.

Step 6: Windows should now format your SSD.

How to format an SSD using File Explorer

Another simple way to format your SSD is by using the default Windows File Explorer. It works pretty much the same way but with fewer steps.

Step 1: Open the File Explorer and search for your SSD from the list of drives and folders on the left.

Screenshot of how to format an SSD.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 2: Right-click on the SSD and select the Format option. Make sure you have selected the correct SSD as you don't want to end up losing important files.

Screenshot of how to format an SSD.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: A new window should open where you need to select the File system as NTFS, Allocation unit size as Default allocation size, and uncheck the Quick format box. You can also rename your SSD by typing the name in front of the Volume label field.

Screenshot of the SSD format dialogue box on Windows 10.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 4: Click on the Start button at the bottom to begin the process.

Step 5: Windows should now format your SSD.

How to format an SSD using the zero-fill method

Where standard formatting merely makes your SSD "forget" where all your files are, leaving them still accessible to someone determined enough to find them, zero-filling your drive erases everything to a much higher standard. It completely wipes your storage device by writing zeroes to every bit, thus making it much harder for any sort of data recovery. Here's how you can format an SSD using the zero-fill method.

Step 1: Open the Windows Start menu, type CMD, and select the Run as administrator option to open Command Prompt with administrative rights.

Step 2: Once Command Prompt opens, type format Drive Letter /fs:NTFS /p:0. Make sure you double-check and pick the correct SSD to format. In our case, we want to format the D: drive, so we need to type format D: /fs:NTFS /p:0.

How to format an SSD using the zero fill method through command prompt on Windows.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Step 3: Next, enter the current volume label or name of the disk drive and hit Enter.

Step 4: A warning message should appear where you need to type Y to confirm your action.

Step 5: Windows should now format your SSD using the zero-fill method. It might take a while depending on the size of the SSD.

Looking to upgrade your SSD after ditching the old one? Here are the best SSDs you can buy in 2022.

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Kunal Khullar
A PC hardware enthusiast and casual gamer, Kunal has been in the tech industry for almost a decade contributing to names like…
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