not able to format my hard disk drive?

every time i try to format my hard disk, i get a message saying "access denied.the drive is currently being used".but no file was using the drive was currently active and even i had emptied the recycle bin and switched off system restore.

when i tried to format c drive, i got a message saying "system drive cannot be formatted".

4 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    You can't format the drive you have booted off of. You will need to boot off a CD and then format the drive.

    Insert your WinXP CD and restart the computer. The computer should boot from the CD instead of the hard drive. You will be prompted to press a key to boot from the CD. Then follow the instructions to install Windows including formating the drive.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago


    You first need to decide what operating system you intend to load after formatting the hard drive. It is best and easiest to use a boot disk for that Operating System, such as MS Dos6.2 or Windows95b or Windows98SE. You will need the proper Windows95/98 boot disk in order to load the these operating systems on the computer, else it will reject loading due to the wrong Operating System on the computer.


    Insert your boot disk in the floppy drive and start the computer. Once the system has completed booting and an A: prompt appears we are ready to start.

    Type: format C: /s [press Enter]

    This statement tells the system to format your "C" drive and when it is finished to copy the system files to the drive, (the /s switch for 'System'). You can format a different drive this way by using a different drive letter.

    Format should display: WARNING, ALL DATA ON


    Proceed with Format (Y/N)? Type [Y] [Press ENTER]

    Your screen should display the size of your drive and a countdown in percentage of formatting completed. Depending on your computer's speed and the size of the drive it can take from a few minutes to over 15minutes.


    When it reaches 100% complete, you will see a new message:


    This indicates that the files required to boot your computer from the hard drive have been copied from the floppy to the hard drive. The computer can now boot from the hard drive without a boot disk in the floppy drive.

    You will see one last message:

    Volume label (11 characters, ENTER for none)?

    Type anything you like or leave it blank - [Press ENTER]

    You can now begin to load your Operating System.

    Special Note:

    You may receive the error message:

    "insufficient memory to load system files"

    This is caused by the lack of a memory manager loaded at boot and your PC can only access the first 1mg of ram memory. There are two possible solutions:

    1) Omit the /s switch when formatting. This is done by typing this:

    FORMAT C: [press enter]

    Then when the format is complete, manually add the system files to your hard drive by using this command:

    SYS C: [press enter]

    2) You will need to load a memory manager in order to overcome this issue. Not knowing what operating system boot disk you are using is an issue here. However, Windows98 boot disks load a memory manager, so let us assume it is either Windows95 or earlier.

    You need to add the file HIMEM.SYS to your boot disk and then modify your Config.sys file on the boot disk.

    Download HIMEM.SYS 10k

    Unzip the file to your boot disk and add this line in the Config.sys, (make this the first line):


    Now, reboot your computer with the boot disk and it should work fine.

    You will find that the boot disks we offer for download are all configured with a Memory manager and contain the file: HIMEM.SYS

    Think about using some common software diagnostic tools:

    4. 1)Power-On Self Test (POST). The POST runs very quickly, and you will normally not even noticed that it is happening -- unless it finds a problem. The POST also uses extended troubleshooting codes that you can use to get much more detail on what problem a troublesome PC is having.

    5. 2)MEM.EXE: This simple utility, built into recent versions of DOS and also Windows 95, provides you with details about your memory configuration, as well as what is currently using your memory. It is especially useful when run with the "/C" parameter (use the "/P" parameter as well to make the output pause when it is scrolling).

    6. 3)Microsoft Diagnostics or MSD.EXE, this is a small DOS utility that takes a brief inventory of the contents of your PC and shows them to you in a text-based format. This is very useful for seeing what disks are in the system, how much memory is installed, and also for checking system resource usage such as LPT ports and IRQs. MSD.EXE is included in later versions of DOS. Not normally part of Windows 95, you can find it on the Windows 95 CD however and then copy it to the C:\WINDOWS\COMMAND directory to make it work.

    7. 4)Windows 95 Device Manager: This is the most useful tool for identifying system configuration and resource usage information under Windows 95. To access it, open the Control Panel and select the "System" icon. Then select the "Device Manager" tab. You will see a graphical "tree" structure showing you all of your PC hardware. If you select "Properties" while "Computer" (the top-level item) is selected, you will be able to see all the IRQs, DMA channels and I/O addresses in use in your PC; very useful for resolving resource conflicts. The same "Properties" button, pressed after selecting a specific hardware device, will show you driver information, resource settings for the hardware item chosen, and much more.

    8. 5)Norton System Information: This utility is similar to the Microsoft Diagnostics, only more detailed in its later versions. It goes well beyond what MSD gives you and is part of Symantec's Norton Utilities.

    9. 6)Microsoft ScanDisk and Norton Disk Doctor: These programs are used to check for hard disk problems. This includes file system corruption and hard disk read errors and should be used when hard disk problems are suspected.

    10. 7)Norton Diagnostics: This utility goes beyond the system information program and actually perform tests on the hardware to identify problems. It includes tests of the processor and motherboard and system memory, and will identify some types of resource conflicts.

    11. 8)Other diagnostic suites are available also. Beyond that is diagnostic hardware (loop-back plugs, multimeter/ohmmeter, BIOS POST cards, test bed, etc.)

    Tips & Warnings

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Boot from your XP installation disk setup program and it will give you an option to either quick format or totally format your drive prior to installation.

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  • 1 decade ago

    If it is an HP it will have a section of the HD for recovery.

    If it is not, use your CD's that came with the comp.

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