Formatting hard drives and external hard drives is usually a fairly straightforward process. The two most popular operating systems, Windows and Mac OS, have built-in format utilities to make formatting external drives even more convenient. However, due to the different manufacturers of drives, interfaces, and other compatibility and formatting issues that hard drives can have, it is sometimes best to use dedicated formatting applications and utilities.
The Windows Disk Management feature depicted above allows Windows users to simply format and partition external drives. However, there are times when it just doesn’t work very well. For example, the drive you are trying to select for formatting may not be recognized by the utility, or it may be gray and inactive.
If you are unable to format or partition your hard drive correctly using the built-in applications offered by Microsoft and Apple, then your next step might be to try to format the drive directly using the command line. If you’re comfortable using the command line, you might want to check out our guide to formatting external hard drives to FAT32.
Also, your computer may not recognize the external hard drive at all. If this happens, this guide may be helpful.
In cases where the hard drive is simply not formatted, not partitioned, etc., you may want to consider using a dedicated hard drive formatting utility, which often makes things easier. In many cases, these utilities are more powerful than the built-in functions that Windows and OS X also offer.
Whether you need to manage partitions, copy partitions, or even create bootable disks, EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition is a great utility that can handle all of this and more.
This lightweight Windows application, which is currently one of the most popular hard drive utilities on many websites, is a little more intuitive than the built-in Windows Disk Management feature and offers a few additional options and features.
You can resize or move partitions, merge partitions, check partitions, erase partitions, format partitions, and change the label. If you need to complete more complex tasks, such as converting a partition or cloning it, you will have to upgrade to the paid version.
MiniTool Partition Wizard Free is a free disk partitioning and formatting utility that is easy to use and efficient. The interface is pretty straightforward, and the software does an excellent job of simplifying complex formatting options.
It supports Windows 10, almost all file system formats, UEFI and EFI boot, MBR and GPT disks, RAID storage, and solid state drives. You can use it to expand the system partition, transfer the OS from a standard hard drive to a solid state drive, convert the file system, and more.
Paragon Partition Manager is free
Paragon Partition Manager free is another great little utility that supports Windows 10 and has many features. There are four main functions: backup and restore, partition manager, disk cleaner, and disk copy.
What I love about Paragon is that every function in the program has its own wizard. For those who are uncomfortable with making such changes, the software does a great job of making the process easier for you. They also have a paid version that supports more features and works on larger drives.
AOMEI Section Assistant
The last recommended partition manager is AOMEI Partition Assistant It has almost all the same features as the other programs mentioned above and also has a free version.
It is also regularly updated and supports Windows 10. Some options will be available in the free version, while others will require a paid version. This is true for all the programs mentioned above. If you only need to complete a one-time task and one program doesn’t work for you, I suggest trying another one before making any purchases.
HP Disk Format Utility
HP Disk Storage format Usefulness
While the other software on this list focuses specifically on formatting external hard drives, HP Disk Storage Formatter specializes in USB devices such as flash drives. This super simple formatting utility has only a few options, but it is effective and has received great reviews.
In general, the formatting utilities provided by Windows and OS X will format hard drives, but there may be times when they fail to format the hard drive correctly. The next option is to use the command line, but this is more difficult and not for everyone. Using the various hard drive formatting and partitioning utilities presented in this post, you should have no problem formatting hard drives or even USB drives correctly. Enjoy!