How to Re-Format a Read-Only Drive

by Stephen Lilley
Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

For hard disk drives classified as "read only," you can only view the data on the drive but not edit it. This does not mean, however, that you cannot reformat the drive to uninstall its file system and remove all data from the drive. You can accomplish this at any time using tools native to your operating system.

Step 1

Click "Start."

Step 2

Click "Computer."

Step 3

Right-click the icon for the read-only drive you want to reformat.

Step 4

Click "Format."

Click on a new file system from the "File System" drop down menu. If you don't know what file system the drive should have, leave this box alone as the default file system will always work with your operating system. Click "Start" to reformat your read-only drive.


  • Reformatting a drive removes all of the data from the drive. You will lose all of the information contained in the drive.
  • On systems with Windows XP and later, this technique only allows you to reformat a drive that does not contain your operating system. If you wish to reformat the hard drive that contains your operating system, you need to have a Windows disk for your particular operating system.


Photo Credits

  • Ciaran Griffin/Stockbyte/Getty Images

About the Author

Stephen Lilley is a freelance writer who hopes to one day make a career writing for film and television. His articles have appeared on a variety of websites. Lilley holds a Bachelor of Arts in film and video production from the University of Toledo in Ohio.

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