Format D Drive but it's in use

By jellyhead ยท 14 replies
Dec 22, 2003
  1. I just got my new PC and put my old hdd in as D drive. Now I want to format it but whenever I try I get an error message saying it's in use. I've opened task manager to check the processes but that list is all gobbledegook to me. Is there a way around this. I was told that I should be able to do it by just right clicking on D: in My Computer and clicking on Format ...
  2. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    I'm going to assume that you are using Windows XP, since you do not provide enough info in your post.

    1. Go to [Start > Control Panel > Administrative Tools > Computer Management > Disk Management].

    2. Right-Click the disk and select Format.

    If that doesn't work then disable System Restore [Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > System Restore] and try again. Hopefully that should work.
  3. jellyhead

    jellyhead TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Oops sorry about that. Yes I'm running XP Pro. I have XP Home on the D drive. I tried going through disk management but format is greyed out. I tried disabling system restore and it's still greyed out. Tried re-booting ... same. This is the error message that I get.

    Windows cannot format this drive. Quit any disk utilities or other programs that are using this drive and make sure that no other window is displaying the contents of the drive. Then try formatting the drive again.
  4. Shiney

    Shiney TS Booster Posts: 160

    Are you sure you have it set up right, normally CD's are allocated to the D drive. Which cable have you connected the old drive to and have you set the master/slave jumpers correctly.
  5. jellyhead

    jellyhead TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    I have no idea because the guy I bought the computer from set it up. I have C drive D drive - both hard disk drives. E is my Pioneer DVD Burner and F is my DVD Rom. This is the same configuration I had in the old case and everything worked, as it is now. I thought hard drives went from C, D alphabetically and then CD/DVD drives so it would depend on how many hard drives you had rather than just CD's are normally allocated to the D drive.
  6. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    Absolutely correct about the drive letters jellyhead.

    How did you install XP? Did you have your old drive attached at the time?

    You should try formatting in Safe Mode or in DOS?
  7. poertner_1274

    poertner_1274 secroF laicepS topShceT Posts: 4,172

    Yes, if you aren't worried about any of the data on it (obvious since you want to format), I would use fdisk. Get a win98 boot disk and just fdisk the drive. That way nothing will be running and you shouldn't have any problems.
  8. Krugger

    Krugger TS Rookie Posts: 173

    exactly, i've never bothered to even try formatting straight from windows. gotta do it from DOS, it's the way to go.
  9. Nic

    Nic TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,549

    Are you logged in as Administrator (or with Administrator privileges)?
  10. jellyhead

    jellyhead TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    XP Pro was installed on the new drive before the old drive, DVD Rom and DVD burner were installed. Yes, I'm logged in as Administrator.

    So all I do is put the boot disk in the A drive, boot it up and run fdisk D? This won't affect my C drive at all? Seeing as I'm supposed to be having Xmas lunch at home this year and I haven't got anything ready, I can see myself sitting here doing this on Boxing Day! I will give it a go then. Thanks.
  11. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    The boot disk has to contain the fdisk utility for that..

    Get the Windows 98SE custom bootdisk from and boot from that. It contains both format and fdisk commands.

    You just type "fdisk" to run it. Then select drive 1 (probably, double check by looking at the drive size!). Then delete partitions.

    Fomat syntax is "format d:". But you have to triple check if the d: that DOS sees is the same d: that you see in Windows.
  12. Krugger

    Krugger TS Rookie Posts: 173

    agreed, be doubly sure the D drive is really your D drive. i had a friend format the wrong drive b/c of not doing that, then ended up having to format BOTH drives. he was screwed.
  13. jellyhead

    jellyhead TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    I tried using a Win98 boot disk but when I tried to do a dir on D: drive it came up with abort, retry, fail. I went into the Command Prompt and changed directory to D: and did format D: and that seemed to be going to work (it prompted me all data will be lost etc). Is this ok to do it this way? Will it work?
  14. vassil3427

    vassil3427 TS Rookie Posts: 640

    Ok just for your own safety, I would shut down the computer and unhook the HDD that you DO NOT want to be deleted...that way there's no chance of you accidentally wiping out all your valuable info......
  15. jellyhead

    jellyhead TS Rookie Topic Starter Posts: 23

    Well thank you all for all your help. Unfortunately because my original post didn't have all my pc specs, I neglected to tell you that both my drives were NTFS which I have since found out you cannot use a Win98 boot disk and run fdisk. Except that I'd already tried :( The upshot of it was that my drive letters were all up the creek so I ran fdisk on the one with the smallest amount of MB. So I happened to partition my new C drive with all my photos, docs, music on it. Now apparently when you try and partition a drive it puts 8 meg aside for some reason or other so that was why it was showing as the smallest one. I then tried to do a recovery console with XP Pro but alas that didn't work either. Back to my supplier (who thankfully works from home seeing it was the holidays), managed to get all my data back for me, formatted the D drive and backed everything up! I had my pc back the next day:) I knew there was a reason I didn't go thru a shop. Not only would it have cost me a fortune, but a shop wouldn't return my call at 9.30pm and I certainly wouldn't have had my pc back the next day.

    Again thank you everyone. Next time I'll leave it to the experts!!
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