Solid-state drives (SSDs) are rapidly growing into widespread use, with hard disk drives gradually fading out. They read and write data faster and don't have to rely on spinning disks to store information within them. Also, they utilize flash memory chips for retaining data without power flowing in-between them. This guide helps new users format their solid-state drives for whatever reason they deem fit.
Formatting solid-state drives is a simple process. When formatting, you need to be logged onto your Windows machine with administrator privileges enabled, or it will not work. The SSD needs to be installed inside of your PC so that it can be detected. Below are the steps to format your SSD for the Windows 10 operating system:
On your Windows 10 desktop, you'll need to do the following:
1. Click on Start, then look for Control Panel. The next option you’ll need to look for is System and Security.
2. Click on Administrative Tools, followed by Computer Management. On the left of Computer Management you’ll need to navigate to Disk Management underneath the Storage option.
Alternatively, you can execute the Run prompt by hitting your Ctrl and R keys at the same time. The Run prompt will pop up, and you can type in diskmgmt.msc (msc for Microsoft Console) so you can access the Disk Management screen directly.
3. In the Format box, you need to pick which Format option you want to use for your drive. You’ll need to use the Quick Format option vice the Full Format option.
4. Once it pops up, choose the NTFS File System and enter the Allocation Unit Size (usually 4096), followed by Perform a quick format.
5. When ready, click OK, and your computer will be able to handle the rest from there. Ensure you're not running any programs in the background, or you will risk slowing the formatting progress.
Once these steps are completed, you can install new applications right off the bat or a brand new operating system.
Solid-state drives are a medium of storage like hard disk drives for storing your data. Because of this, you must be aware of what data you have stored on your SSD before formatting it, as it will wipe the drive clean of everything on the drive, including your movies, music, and personal document.
Simply put, it is better to put Windows on a solid-state drive. It boots up faster than running it on a traditional hard disk drive. The average boot-up time is around 20 seconds, versus 45 seconds on older HDDs.
When you reformat your drive, you're wiping the slate clean of all data stored on it. Data can be recovered, but it would be better to save your data on a separate external drive before reformatting your SSD. You should keep a spare hard drive handy to save whatever is essential to you: photographs, tax documents, movies, etc.
On the flip side, using the Secure Erase function wipes all data stored on the SSD but doesn't permanently erase data or reformat the drive. By permanently erasing data, it can no longer be recovered. Vendors will have their own utilities in case you need to recover data that you accidentally deleted.
TRIM is a command that instructs the SSD to mark dated files as stale automatically. You can think of it as a form of active garbage collection that removes data no longer used. From an efficiency standpoint, it helps to keep your drive space free of clutter. Therefore, it helps with the longevity of the SSD and helps it last much longer.
The result of TRIM is similar to that of defragging a hard drive. Keep in mind that solid-state drives do not need to be defragged since the TRIM command is similar to defragmenting a hard drive.
During the reformatting process, the original 1s and 0s within the SSD are replaced. TRIM is run separately and lets the drive controller know that the data removed is not real. The extracted data are treated as available space within the drive.
Hard drives and solid-state drives both store data but are radically different in how they do so. Using the old knowledge base to maintain and operate hard drives would not be advisable if you're using solid-state drives in your computers.
Like hard drives, solid-state drives have a formatting utility that you can use to wipe the drive clean for re-purposing the drive to re-use with a newer operating system or for donation for other users who want a new drive for themselves.
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Sometimes your user interface may seize up, either because your PC has too many programs running in the background or it got hit by a malicious virus. Windows cannot format your SSD from your BIOS. You will have to back up all the data you have on your BIOs, and either use a DVD or USB thumbstick to boot from there.
Understand that BIOS supports the detection of hard drives and solid-state drives, so you can configure your computer to boot from either one depending on where your operating system is stored. BIOS also runs a diagnostic that detects the components within your computer that enable it to run: namely the processor, your RAM (random access memory) for your programs, your drives, and so on.
Since there are many computer manufacturers on the market, there is not an exhaustive listing of systems. Typically, it would help if you struck a key before the computer running through its boot-up process to access the BIOS, such as F2 or F2/Delete based on the PC model that you're using.
When reinstalling the operating system, Windows will choose the C drive by default since it is the primary partition storing the operating system files. There is potential that something can happen to your operating system's bootable sector, and the computer won't be able to boot.
Formatting your SSD via Windows is easy, and we opted to give you two different options since SSDs are both used on the Windows 7 and Windows 10 operating systems.
For Windows 10, you can refer to Section 2: How To Format Your SSD for all the information you need on formatting your SSD on that operating system. Windows 10 contains a built-in utility called Disk Management to format the SSD.
Disk Management operates by performing partition and disk operations to format, create, extend, shrink, and delete partitions. They can also assign drive letters if you have multiple drives on your computer.
Formatting the SSD on Windows 7 isn't that different from Windows 10 since the two operating systems are similar. Follow the steps below:
1. Click on the Start button, followed by Control Panel.
2. Click on System and Maintenance, followed by Administrative Tools. You will need to click on Computer Management next.
3. On the Navigation Pane on the left, choose the Disk Management under Storage.
4.The New Simple Volume Wizard will pop up. When it does, click Next.
5. For the next step, type out the volume size you want to create. It is annotated in megabytes (MB), usually 4096, or accepts the default value. When done, click Next.
6. Here, you can assign a drive letter or choose the default one to identify the partition. Click Next when done.
7. In Format Partition, choose one of these options:
- Format volume with default settings by clicking Next
- If you decide not to format the volume, choose Do not format this volume, followed by Next
8. Once you're finished reviewing the previous options, click Finish.
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In closing, solid-state drives are the future of data retention. There are some instances in which you will have to format your SSDs out of necessity, whether it's because you got tired of how your programs performed on your old hard drive or because you got hit with a malicious virus that prevents you from accessing your data. No matter the reason, formatting your hard drive ensures that you'll be running with a clean slate.