Getting Started: Finding & Launching Disk Management
Depending on the version of Windows you are using, the method of accessing the Disk Management
window will be different. Note that the window styles in this document may differ from yours due
to theme choice.
Windows Vista, Windows 7
Click the Start Menu and type "diskmgmt.msc" into the search bar. This should return a result
above the search bar (Windows 7 shown). Press Enter to launch Disk Management.
When ready, please skip to Step 1 if you're using Windows Vista or Windows 7.
Windows 8, Windows 10
Right-click the Start Menu and choose "Disk Management" from the context contextual menu that appears.
Windows 8 is shown on the left, Windows 10 is shown on the right.
STEP 1: Initialize a Disk
When the Disk Management window opens, you may see a pop-up window that states: "You must initialize a disk before
the Logical Disk Manager can access it." This is most common with drives that have never been used and still
have their factory configurations intact. If you see this message, choose the Master Boot Record (MBR) option
for drives 2TB or smaller. Choose the GUID Partition Table (GPT) option for drives larger than 2TB.
Once you've chosen a partition scheme, click "OK". If you do not see this message box move to Step 2.
STEP 2: Select Your Drive
Find the drive you want to format; it will be listed in the bottom half of the Disk Management window. The
drive should be displayed as "Unallocated" if it has never been used before.
Select the disk by clicking within the region displayed as "Unallocated," then right-click and choose "New Simple Volume."
STEP 3: Simple Volume Wizard
The New Simple Volume Wizard will appear. Click "Next" to move to the first setting. The Specify Volume
Size field should be set to use the full amount of space available by default. If you wish to set
up a smaller disk size, you can change the setting here.
Click "Next" once the "Simple volume size" is set.
STEP 4: Assign a Drive Letter
The New Simple Volume Wizard will ask you to assign a drive letter. Based on the drives present
in your PC and the letters they use, the next available letter will be chosen by default. You
can use this letter or choose a different one from the pop-up menu.
Once the drive letter is set, click "Next".
STEP 5: NTFS
Before you name the drive for easy recognition, make sure the "File system" option is set to NTFS — this
is the standard format for Windows drives. You can leave the “Allocation unit size” option set to Default for general purpose use.
Next, enter the drive name in the "Volume label" field. It is a good practice to use only letters, spaces,
underscores, dashes, and numbers. For general purpose use, leave the default "Perform quick format" option
checked, and leave the "Enable file and folder compression" option unchecked.
Once these options are set, click "Next".
STEP 6: Format Success
If the format was successful you should see a message to that effect on the next wizard screen, along with a listing of the settings you used.
Click "Finish" when you're done reviewing them.
STEP 7: View Your New Drive
The final step is to view your new drive in the Disk Management window. You should no longer see an
unallocated space, and the old disk name should be replaced by the new label you chose in Step 5.
Congratulations, you are now ready to use your newly formatted windows drive!
*Optional* Step 8a – Format Changes:
Once a drive has been formatted, if you need it to be readable by both Mac and PC, you can change the
File System to ExFAT. This type works with both Windows Vista and later and OS X 10.7.5 and later.
To do this, just re-open the Disk Management window, select your drive, then right-click in the allocated space. Choose "Format..."
*Optional* Step 8b – Format Changes:
Once the Format window opens, simply change the "File system" option from "NTFS" to "ExFAT", then click OK.
You will see a warning that "Formatting this volume will erase all data on it." If you’re OK with
this, click "OK". Otherwise click "Cancel", exit Disk Management and back up the files you need to
back up, before returning to Disk Management to reformat the drive to ExFat.
*Optional* Step 9 – Volume Size Changes:
If the drive is formatted with the NTFS file system, you can shrink, extend, or delete the volume by right
clicking on the allocated space in Disk Management and choosing the desired option and using the
Volume size controls. When you shrink a volume it will create more unallocated space so that you can
create additional volumes if needed.
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