If you happen to have a hard drive that was never formatted, you'll need to initialize and create a new partition before you can format it.

Typically, you'll know when a hard drive doesn't have a partition, because it'll not appear in File Explorer, and on Disk Management, it'll appear as unallocated space.

To properly set up a blank hard drive, use these steps:

  1. Open Start.
  2. Search for Disk Management and click the top result to open the experience.
  3. Right-click the hard drive marked as "Unknown" and "Not Initialized," and select Initialize Disk.

  4. Check the disk to initialize.
  5. Select the partition style:

    • Master Boot Record (MBR) for hard drives smaller than 2TB in size.
    • GUID Partition Table (GPT) for hard drives larger than 2TB in size.
  6. Click the OK button.
  7. Right-click the Unallocated space, and select the New Simply Value option.

  8. Click the Next button.
  9. Under the "Simple volume size in MB" section, leave the default size if you're planning to use the entire hard drive to store files. Otherwise, specify the amount of space in megabytes that you want to allocate for the partition.

  10. Click the Next button.
  11. Use the "Assign the following drive letter" drop-down menu to select a letter for the new hard drive.

  12. Click the Next button.
  13. Use the "File system" drop-down menu, and select NTFS (recommended for Windows 10).
  14. Use the "Allocation unit size" drop-down menu, and select the Default option.
  15. In the "Value label" field, type a descriptive name for the drive.
  16. Check the Perform a quick format option.

    Quick Tip: If you prefer a full format, clear the quick format option. Just keep in mind that depending on the size of the drive, it can take hours to finish.

  17. Unless necessary, clear the Enable file and folder compression option.
  18. Click the Next button.
  19. Click the Finish button.

After completing the steps, the new hard drive will be initialized, partitioned, and properly formatted.