How do I set up a hard drive and partition in Windows?

Updated: 04/02/2019 by Computer Hope
The Windows logo.

Unlike earlier versions of Windows, such as Windows 98, the fdisk command is no longer used to set up partitions. If you've installed a new hard drive on a computer that is running Windows or want to change its partitions, use the Windows Disk Management tool. However, if you still prefer a command line interface to set up drives, you can use the diskpart command.

Tip

Users may also set up partitions during the Windows installation process.

Note

To set up a new hard drive or partitions in Windows, you must have administrative rights.

How to open Disk Management

Windows 10, 8, and 7

From the Windows desktop, press Windows key, type Create and format hard disk partitions, and then press Enter.

Windows XP and 2000

  1. Click Start, then click Run.
  2. In the Run text field, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter.

Windows Disk Management

How to set up a new drive

  1. The Windows Disk Management tool should look similar to the image above. Any disks not yet set up will be shown as Not Initialized and Unallocated.
  2. Right-click on the disk you want to set up select Initialize Disk. If you are dealing with a disk that has already been set up, skip to the next section.
Tip

If you're running a more recent version of Windows that supports GPT, you'll be prompted to select a Partition Style. For most users, leaving it as MBR will be sufficient. If you're setting up a drive or partition larger than 2 TB or want to use the latest partitioning style, select GPT.

GPT or MBR

  1. Click the The OK button in Windows. button.

How to create a partition

Tip

If you are unfamiliar with any of the terminologies in the following steps, the next section should be helpful to you.

  1. Once the drive is initialized, right-click on it.
  2. Select New Partition or New Simple Volume from the drop-down menu that appears.

The selector for a new simple volume.

  1. A New Simple Volume Wizard will open. Click the The next button in Windows. button.
  2. Specify the size of the partition you'd like to create. Click the The next button in Windows. button.

Creating a new volume in Windows.

  1. Select a drive letter for your new partition. Click the The next button in Windows. button.

The drive letter for a new volume.

  1. Ensure that your drive format is NTFS, change the volume's name (optional), and then click the The next button in Windows. button.

The format for a new volume in Windows.

  1. Click the The finish button in Windows. button and your new partition will appear.

A new volume that is created in Windows.

Further information on partitions

Partition or Volume Size - By default, the size will be the maximum capacity in MB of the drive. If you want the drive to have multiple partitions, change the size to that which you desire. The remainder of the drive can be allocated later and, if you specify the maximum size, you can also shrink this size at a later time.

Drive letter or Path - Each drive or partition in Windows can be assigned an available drive letter. Most Windows users prefer this setting. However, versions of Windows which support NTFS can also mount a drive to a folder on an existing drive. If you plan on using the drive to store only a specific type of file, such as pictures, music, or programs, this can be especially useful.

Format - The format of the drive specifies the type of file system you want to use on the computer. For most users, we highly recommend leaving it at the default NTFS file system. Other options may include FAT32 or exFAT depending on your version of Windows.