Q&A: How do I reformat a hard drive that I replaced with an SSD?

hard-driveQuestion from Aaron L.:  I replaced the hard drive in my HP laptop with an SSD, then installed Windows 7 from the DVD because I thought it would be best to start fresh instead of copying everything over from the hard drive.

I then installed the hard drive into an external enclosure, plugged it into a USB port, then copied all of my files onto another external drive.

The SSD is working great and so is the old hard drive (which is now being used as an external drive). The problem is the old drive still contains the original partitions for the operating system and the system recovery files. How can I reformat the old drive as one single large partition?

Rick’s answer:  It sounds like you did everything just right Aaron, and I’ll bet you’re enjoying the speed increase provided by the SSD!

Since you already have your files copied off of the old drive onto another one, you can easily repartition the old hard drive and reformat it as one larger, single drive.

Important: Following the instructions below on the wrong drive (in this case the SSD) will wipe out everything on the boot drive and render the laptop unbootable.

Therefore, you agree that if all of your folding money magically turns into losing scratch-off lottery tickets, your dog chases after the mailman and never returns, or everything on your SSD gets wiped out and you have to re-install Windows, it won’t be the fault of your humble tech blogger (namely me).

In other words, proceed at your own risk. If you agree with everything you read above, please feel free to continue with the steps listed below to repartition and reformat your old hard drive:

1 – Before you do anything else, create a System Repair Disc and a Backup Image of the SSD just in case you accidentally re-partition the wrong drive (trust me, it happens).

2 – Disconnect all external drives from the PC (the other USB hard drive as well as all thumb drives and memory cards) except for the old hard drive that you are now wanting to re-partition.

3 – Press the Windows+E key combination to open Windows Explorer.

4 – Right-click on Computer (in the left-hand column) and then click Manage.

5 – Click Disk Management.

6 – The bottom section of the Disk Management window should now list both the SSD and the old hard drive along with the partitions contained on each. You’ll want to ignore the SSD (which should be listed as Disk 0) and make all the changes to the hard drive (which should be listed as Disk 1). You can verify which disk is which in the list by comparing their total storage capacities.

7 – Beginning with the right-most partition on the hard drive, right click on the partition and then click Delete Volume. Repeat this process for the remaining partitions.

8 – After all the partitions on the hard drive have been deleted, right-click on the hard drive and create a new partition, then format it.

You’re done! Now your old hard drive (which is your “new” external USB drive) is usable in Windows as one large drive.


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