Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

"Volume in use" when trying to format most commonly means you're trying to format and erase the entire disk that has Windows on it.

The most common scenario for this is that the operating system itself is using the drive. For example you can't FORMAT C: if Windows itself resides on or is using C:. The only way to format a drive in use by the system is to reboot, usually from floppy, so the system isn't running. Be careful - this usually means you are wiping out your system - I'm assuming that's what you want.

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

July 1, 2004 9:44 AM


I can't format my hard drive , gives me message format terminated, volume in use, do you want dismount y/n y volume still in use what can I do or do I replace my hard drive?

July 1, 2004 9:46 AM

Is this your C: drive? If so, the article applies.

July 6, 2004 6:53 AM

I can't format my hard drive - it keep telling me "volume is in use by another process" -- why?

it is win me

July 6, 2004 8:54 AM

Sounds exactly like the scenario outlined in the article.

October 24, 2004 11:30 PM

i'm trying to format my laptop.
i keep getting "cannot format a network drive". What do i do? Someone help me please

October 26, 2004 9:08 AM

Are you specifying the correct drive? It thinks you're attempting to format a drive on another machine or across the network. If you really want to reformat your laptop, chances are you want to reformat "C:". Remember: all data will be lost.

October 26, 2004 5:56 PM

I want to reformat my disk,but when I put therestore cd and restart the program nothing happens,I even order a new restore cd and still it wont work why?

November 1, 2004 5:39 PM

I am trying to format two 200G hard drives that are shown as "F" drive ( one large drive 382 G). When i try formating with Microsoft I get a error message that says Windows can not format the drive.
What is the problem and how do I format drive F

November 2, 2004 1:29 PM

In a nutshell (and assuming Windows XP), you probably need to go into drive manager (right click on My Computer, Select Manage, Select disk management), and make sure that the drive is properly configured and active therein. You can also format from within that interface. I'd need to know more specifics if that's not the problem.

ross walker
November 9, 2004 3:20 AM

I have just got windows xp pro for my computer , i got told to put the disk in and it will write over my ME edition , but every time you start your computer you have to pick if u want ME or XP is there a way I can delete the whole of the ME .

November 13, 2004 7:16 PM

Running ME on a laptop and XP Pro on main computer. How do I reboot using floppy and how do I format the drives after this reboot? I do want to wipe the drives clean and start with clean reinstalls. Thank you

February 5, 2005 6:03 PM

i am attempting to format my hard drive in computer management and the command format is inactive when i hover over the c: drive. c: is my system drive. are there any other methods of formatting in XP that you could suggest?

February 5, 2005 10:35 PM

Did you read the article?

February 24, 2005 9:48 AM

It isn't condescending Leo, but something I have learned in my 76 years is that "Anything is simple if you know how." I'm not quoting someone else. That's my personal observation. I'm at the same point as the person at the top who is getting the message the Volume is in use when trying to format. I have formatted before, stumbling into it by accident I guess, but now working on an eMachine a few years old. I can't force a format, and I came to the conclusion that, Sure, it's in use by the operating system. The subject of a boot disk in your response is my problem. I created a DOS boot disk both in that computer and the one I'm using to write this. Neither got me anywhere. I set the BIOS to Boot on a removable disk, I've tried the XP install disk, the ME install disk. an Installation Disc for MS-DOS operating system, a Western Digital floppy. After three days I'm still struggling. I did get XP on to the hard drive, but there is other stuff on there I would like to get rid of. Just format and start over. I'm at a loss boss. Just got into computers about three years ago and although I built four, I'm just a beginner. Thanks for any advice. You're a good man to be answering question for people. Wayne

February 24, 2005 11:29 AM

Since you have a Windows XP Setup CD, you can boot from that. When it asks you what partition to set up on, you have the option of removing the existing partition - do so. Then create a new partition using all available space, (I recommend NTFS format) and the setup program will format the disk for you prior to copying over Windows XP. Just did exactly this a couple of days ago myself :-).

February 25, 2005 3:26 PM

Hi Leo. I tried that before and after your reply. The problem at that point is that I get a message: "Setup is unable to perform the requested operation on the selected partition. This partition contains temporary setup files that are required to complete the installation". It's obvious there is something undesirable going on with the drive. It is a 15GB hard drive and shows only 52% of free space and yet, the only program in the "Add Remove Programs" list is Norton System Works. If you look under programs in the file system, it lists a bunch of them. Still banging my head against the wall, but I do appreciate your help, and I'm listening. Wayne

February 25, 2005 8:30 PM

Then we may not be talking about the same thing. Booting from CD, Windows setup asks early on where to install. It's at that point that you should have the opportunity to remove any (and all) existing partitions.

February 26, 2005 6:10 AM

Hi Leo. A younger friend (a smart, but very helpful one with a double E & Master's in BA) came over last night and worked for over an hour trying to format that thing. I didn't feel so bad then about my failure. He ended up taking it home, putting it in as a second drive in another computer, downloading a setup from Seagate and it formatted with no problem. I guess we should have done that here. Anyway, the problem is solved and I thank you for your input. Learning something every day. Wayne

March 17, 2005 6:41 PM

i just recently got a 80 gb hard drive it won't like me format it any suggestions?

March 17, 2005 7:19 PM

Depends on the error message you're getting.

April 18, 2005 2:30 PM

Find out what brand your hard drive is. (eg: Western Digital, Fujistu, etc)

Go to their website, and get a drive utility.
(westen digital has a utility called Data Lifeguard) Not sure if this link works, but here it is.

Try running some tests. If everything is okay, what you want to do is WRITE ZEROS TO DRIVE.

This is suppose/and should make the drive as if you just took it out the box(all 0's on drive).

If that doesn't work, just do a google on something similar.

Here's a site that has a list of all the diagnostic utilities of most drive manufactures.(if the link works)

May 8, 2005 12:00 AM

Hello, I am trying to reformat my CD drive with Windows XP. When i boot my computer form the Windows CD, I do not receive any partitioning options. When I attempt to proceed with the reformat, it tell sme that it could not detect any hard drives on my computer. I tried putting my motherboard's drivers on a floppy and pressing F6 when Windows Setup is scanning my system, and I did sucessfully tell it to load those dirvers, but nothing changed. It continiues to tell me that I have no hard drives.

June 6, 2005 5:37 AM

Hi guys,

I recently solved the problem by making sure that virtual memory was disabled on the drive i tried to format. To do this:

1. Set virtual memory to zero on the drive in question (right click on 'my computer'-> properties -> advanced -> virtual memory

2. Make sure that the 'view hidden files' function is turned on and delete whatever files stored on the drive.

3. restart.

4. format.

Hope this helped...

June 6, 2005 10:33 AM

Krishna: this article

October 15, 2005 4:00 AM

hi there ,iam on working on pc 5233/x i tried to format it but it wont aload me its does boot from start up disk but when i go to format its not ready to format then format terminated
can any one help please thanks


October 25, 2005 5:38 AM

Hi Leo

I have just got a maxtor 200gb hard drive that was on a RAID server at work i took it home put it in my pc which has a 40gb hard drive with windows xp on i tried to format the 200gb it runs the format but at the end it says windows was unable to format it...please can you help

Kind Regards


November 8, 2005 5:35 PM

The reason you cant format it is because windows detects a pagefile for that drive. If you turn off page file and go into computer management you will be able to format the drive. Hope this helps

November 14, 2005 5:33 AM

my hard disk drive was loaded Linux operating system. Now I want it to format the disk with windows. I can't do it - even with start-up disk (win 98 disk). Please help me with this task, I know you can solve my problem with just a few comments.

November 14, 2005 8:58 AM

I'd need to know what happens when you try.

Mike S
December 2, 2005 9:43 PM

i recently bought a new pc. i want to use the hard drive out of my old pc as a secondary. i have plugged it in, but its not showing up anywhere, did i miss something?

December 13, 2005 9:37 AM

I am trying to format a new hard drive for Win Xp installation. It got to 51% complete and seemed to hang. i let it run over night and is now at 57% complete. Any ideas on why the formatting process is so slow? I have done this at least a hundred times and have never had this problem before. I am guessing the problem lies with the hard drive.

December 15, 2005 8:26 PM

Mike S: hard to say. Make sure it's plugged in correctly. It's likely that you'll need to change a jumper on the drive as well, but exactly what will depend on the drive. Check the documentation for that specific drive.

December 28, 2005 6:31 AM

i cant format my disc /c
i format it normaly before but now it stay on 20%
and dont go next
Ennybody know what to do ????


December 29, 2005 6:33 AM

hi all!
i have same problem then XxXx.
when i format my computer (quick format).
it stay on 20% and dont get moved...
annybody know what to do
Leo you are master you should now something please tell us.

December 30, 2005 8:40 PM

For a format that typically means your disk has a bad sector. See this article:

January 9, 2006 7:43 AM

hi, i am having a problem when trying to format my hard drive, it says it cant do because its in use by another process. you mentioned turning off page file but how do i do that? please help!!
thanks. jazzmundo

January 14, 2006 6:37 PM

Ive been getting this really annoying cyclic redundancy check error. I tried going into safe mode to delete the file but had no luck. So, I figured I would reformat my hard drive since Ive been able to do it before without having my windows xp cd in the computer. Now when I try to reformat it tells me the volume is in use by another process. Why? any ideas??

January 16, 2006 3:54 PM

I Cant format my hard drive... I have windows xp I go to disk managment and the drive does not get seen? I cant format whats not there. the drive is wired up correctly all cables are fine. just no hard disk. it used to be fat32 i tryied changing it to ntfs something went wrong! help

January 21, 2006 8:09 PM

If you are formating then you must have the system windows disc. I just did a XP home and here are the directions.
Your computer must be set to boot from a CD. Access SET UP BY PRESSING Esc. Or Del (depending on your computer) just when boot up starts. When you are in set up re-arrange the boot sequence to make the CD drive first (on the top of the list).
Put the Windows XP disc in the CD drive. Turn on the computer. When you see a message to press any key to boot from the CD, press Enter. Windows setup will start. Let it load its files.
When it finishes, youíll get three choices. Press Enter to set up Windows, Accept the agreement by pressing F8. Then, press Esc to continue installation without repairing XP.
On the next window, select the partition you want to format. Press D to delete it. Windows will ask you if you really, really want to delete the partition. Press Enter and then again if needed. Youíll be given a choice. Press L to delete the partition.
Once the formatting is completed, Windows will reinstall files, then reboot. When it does so, DO NOT choose to boot from the CD, but do leave the CD in. From then on, itís pretty automatic.
When Windows XP is reinstalled (it will use the CD) then you can start restoring all your old saved files from removable storage.

February 7, 2006 7:43 PM

My computer keeps telling the same thing. How can I reboot my system from a floppy, if my laptop doesn't have a floppy disc... And when I insert the Operating system cd, it doesn't give me the option to format. My laptop is HP pavilion zv5000...
Thank you Leo

February 7, 2006 8:37 PM

If you boot from the operating system disk and setup the OS, one of the options along the way will be to reformat the hard disk.

Alternately, you can find or make a bootable CD-ROM. KNoppix, BartPE - depending on your level of expertise - or

February 10, 2006 7:32 PM

I cannot format my hard drive it tells me that the volume is in use by another process. Can you tell me step by step procedures on how to format? Thank you very much! MORE POWER!

Chris Waw
February 25, 2006 11:02 AM

I have windows 98, I converted to Fat 62, and want to switch bact to 16 to uninstall win.98.

when I go to format it say's it cannot because files are being used by windows, and wont let me format back to 16.

The computer was given to me by a lady, and she does not have the discs that go with the computer.

A friend gave me his win. xp to install and I cannot uninstall the existing.

February 25, 2006 4:08 PM

I don't see any reason to convert back to FAT 16. If you're attempting to upgrade to WinXP, just do that.

February 28, 2006 12:47 PM

maybe off topic but.. i try booting with floppy and get the A: prompt. i try selecting C: but it isnt having any of it?? says something like drive is not accessible or invalid drive. but then without the floppy in it boots normally!

The computer is weird it has winXP on D: and win2000 on C: i want to use the hard drive 1 for somthing else (another computer) but the windows 2000 on C: is corrupt and deleted but is still left on there if you know wat i mean.
cheers, jammy

February 28, 2006 2:00 PM

I would guess that C: is formatted NTFS which DOS can't read (unless you get additional drivers). If you plan to erase it, then you could just reformat it with FAT32 and you'd see it again.

February 28, 2006 2:08 PM

yes i saw a message in DOS somewhere about it being NTFS.
could you help me with how i go abour reformating with FAT32? or a website that will help. i dont really know much about that.
cheers, jammy

February 28, 2006 2:54 PM

Well, it's quite possible that the floppy disk you're booting from has the format command on it. Type "FORMAT C:" and see what happens. Remember, this will ERASE EVERYTHING ON C: :-)

February 28, 2006 3:00 PM

tried but it says bad command. i just need to get my hands on XP disk so i can use recovery console to change to FAT32 and to format it? if it will work! nothing seems to with me. been gr8 help thanks.
cheers, jammy.

March 7, 2006 8:53 AM

i want to format my computer but i get this message:

format cannot run because the volume is in use by another program.....

what can i do i really want to format the computer.

March 8, 2006 2:01 PM

iv just reinstalled windows xp and my c drive is now i drive and my dvd drives are j and h how do i put them in the right places i cant down load anythink

April 26, 2006 7:07 PM

Im having this problem too. I need to remove xp of my pc and put Win 95 on it.
I just thought to boot up xp from startup. Do the format there, stop the installation then put my win95 in there.

Otherwise to fromat guys put ur xp cd in ur pc. Restart it and follow the prompts. That should work :D

June 18, 2006 7:10 PM

when i try to format my laptop, its gets to about 80% and quits...anybody else have this problem, and if so, any possible solutions?

June 23, 2006 10:59 PM

i try to format my computer but it keeps tellin me that the volume is in use by another process... is there another way to format my comp without gettin into windows?

June 23, 2006 11:05 PM

See the article you just commented on.

August 19, 2006 9:07 PM

I want to format my drive also. I knnow I can do this if I make a boot disk, and use dos, but can't figure out how to make a bootable system CD...since my newer, like most nowadays, computer does not have a floppy drive. :-(

What happened to the good ol days when the system asked you once or twice if you were sure, and you just formatted away. Geez, is it even possible anymore. HP put this stupid recovery partition (using MY disk space instead of sending recovery disks like everyone else...too cheap I guess)and I want to get rid of it. I have my backup, and bootable Norton disk, and I am ready to go, if I could just get my stupid hard drive formatted..

August 22, 2006 9:49 PM

hi my name is sebastian and i just formatted my computer i made media center editon now i got xp professional and i cant get to my volume its like my speakers r dead any suggestions and the other thing is that when i go on my internet it like waves or laggs i scroll down its like a big wave any help with these problems type 555 and tell me solution ty a lot guys i will come back in a few to see@@@

October 10, 2006 4:18 PM


Similar problem when trying to format my drive (can't format C when C is in use)so I decided to use the restore CD which has a format option. I set the boot sequence to CD-ROM, disabled the hard drive and then rebooted. System goes to the CD-ROM drive (which contains the boot CD)and then goes to the hard drive where it launches Windows 2000. Double checked the setup and boot sequence and everything is correct. It shouldn't even be looking to the hard drive ?! Any input? Thanks.

January 20, 2007 9:24 AM

but i do not have a floppy to format the drive???? i do not understand use a floppy to format???? i'm really depresrate to solve this probs.... LEO can u help me out.....

March 1, 2007 7:12 AM

what does drive volume mean? im sorry im new to computer and i just have to know

May 1, 2007 9:19 AM

windows xp refuses to start because somehow my drive E, where xp was installed has somehow changed to drive D and vise-versa. Is there a way that I can rename them?

isaac kals
May 15, 2007 2:22 AM

Boot from xp set up disc
Enter the partition section
first delete the patition
create it again
press f3 to quit installation.

May 31, 2007 9:27 PM

When formating with an XP cd my pc will either tell me my hard drive does not exist when it does, or I get the option to press any key to boot from cd then the screen display inspecting system and hangs. What would be the issue? I replaced the hard drive and cd rom and problem still exist.

mohamed sherbeny
July 17, 2007 3:51 AM

how do i format my hard disk drive I am using O.P system windows xp sp2

July 30, 2007 5:09 PM

Hi Leo
im trying to reformat my compiter from the disc i loaded it with from windows 98 in the first place,computer says the version on computer is newer than on cd but i loaded off same cd to start with.xp just starts as normal it wont go into format mode i wonder if you could help please. Many thanks Moxley 108 .

October 31, 2007 10:08 PM

Today, I try to format my drive for kill virus after my backup data. I can't format my hard drive - it keep telling me "volume is in use by another process" -- why?": Firstly, I dont' know , After I see at regedit use " msconfig " to see some process - autorun virus or another program. Only don't check and ok. I can normally format my computer's drive. I glad to see your good website. Visit my security computer blog at

December 5, 2007 12:27 PM

i see where you answered a question that applied to my problem,but only partially so,you see the drive im trying to format is my slave drive,which used to be the master with the operating system,now i have another drive from which i run the 'c'drive with the trying to format another drive('d')and it keeps telling me partition in use. how do i proceed from here.
thanx in advance...

January 16, 2008 5:42 AM

my operating system is in C:drive , the problem is with my drive :D , whenever i am trying to opening the drive D: is not letting me to open and its giving the message as "disk in drive D: is not formatted , do you want format now ", please help me out coz i had very important data and photos in drive D: and again i am telling you my operating system is on drive C: . please help me out as soon as possible, thanks

February 12, 2008 2:40 PM

Hi Leo, I'm a bit stucked with something, a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine asked me to format his windows xp home, for an xp profesional, so I agreed to it, as I did that many times to my computers, but half way troughout the process it kept telling me that it couldn't find certain files when installing, so i thought it was the disk being damaged or something, so we acquired a different disk, so it was going fine but half way trough the installation done it again, and I don't seem to be able to fix the computer now, and obviously all files from previous system had been lost so the computer is on standby till further notice lol!, can you please help me?, kind regards.

March 16, 2008 8:41 PM

"I can't format my hard drive - it keep telling me "volume is in use by another process" -- why?":
The answer is windows is using it but is there a way to dismount the volume or format my hard drive...

June 10, 2008 7:33 PM

HI. my hard drive not formatting past 6% can u help me with this prob please. If u can tell me a way how to recover my files that would be ever cooler..

Shubham singla
August 8, 2008 11:40 PM

Hello Leo i want to tell one of my problem of my PC.
Leo i cannot format my 'Local disk E'.It always tells me to quit the disk utilities or other programs that are using this drive

August 13, 2008 12:37 PM

ineed your help, my hp lapop keeps rebooting so i decided to reformat gave a message that setup cannot find harddrive i decided to try the harddrive on another laptop... and its working fine ... i need ur help on what to do

Linda Hartigan
September 24, 2008 2:26 PM

pxe-m04: hooking bootstrap interrupt 18h is the error message
I was told to disable the LAN NETWORK in the bootup sequence but on this EMachine computer it doesn't allow you to make a change other than to change the place in the sequence..which I put as last.

Bruno Araujo
November 9, 2008 3:53 AM

"i see where you answered a question that applied to my problem,but only partially so,you see the drive im trying to format is my slave drive,which used to be the master with the operating system,now i have another drive from which i run the 'c'drive with the trying to format another drive('d')and it keeps telling me partition in use. how do i proceed from here.
thanx in advance..."

The problem is that your hard drive used to have a paging file associated with either the OS drive or the secondary partition, i was able to format my secondary partition once i removed the paging file (my computer->properties->advance systemsettings->performance-advanced)

removing that paging file from my secondary volume was the only way i had it formated, now the problem is that, the whole HD is now a secondary HD and i'm still trying to figure out how to change that, i'll try to direct the virtual memory to another HD and see waht happens

Bruno Araujo
November 9, 2008 3:55 AM

and it worked! just do as i told in the previews post, go to your virtual memory settings and set the configuration to manual (you dont need to restart after taht) just apply and OK, format the drive and voilla!

November 30, 2008 8:29 PM

"I can't format my hard drive
- it keep telling me "volume is in use by another process" -- why?"

how can i format and re-install with windows cd after getting this to work?

Did you read the article you just commented on? It's pretty clear: you must boot from something else. Typically you want to boot from a Windows installation CD.
- Leo
Tony Ward
December 4, 2008 6:10 PM

Thanks Bruno Araujo. Paging file tip fixed me !

December 10, 2008 9:16 PM

Please how can i format my PC if i dont have a windows cd.

vinay teja
December 24, 2008 5:17 AM

my xp is in d: drive and i want to format my c: drive but It always tells me to quit the disk utilities or other programs that are using this drive how to find them please email me

December 29, 2008 1:22 PM

OK - booting from a CD is NOT working - computer won't actually work from the CD even though I set that as the default boot in setup. I'm still not able to get off the c drive so I can format it for disposal. Any help appreciated

January 5, 2009 9:37 PM

Well i'm using an emachines 5240 XP Home Edition and I have the recovery/boot disk. I'm trying to reformat my C: drive but it won't let me, I only have 1 hard drive. When I boot from the disk it goes to the restore procedure but from when I press "y" when it says that it will format my hard drive it doesn't do anything, then something about "STACKS" comes up.

Is there any other way to reformat my hard drive?
I only have 1 hard drive so I can't reformat from the main windows cause it tells me to quit all disk utilities.

January 9, 2009 7:21 AM

Hi, I'm trying to format the ard drive on my laptop, ts an old Dell Latitude CP M166ST and having the same problem, wont let me because of running processes,was going to try booting from disc but can't get into the BIOS, tried the usual pressing f2, f8 and delete at startup but it just loads windows. Well f8 gives me options to start in safe mode etc but no BIOS.I'm sure I'm using the wrong key, does anyone know what key I should be using please ?

January 10, 2009 4:03 AM

just an update, I managed to format, it was pause break key to get into BIOS lol

January 10, 2009 4:07 AM

Hi Ashton, you can format it if you go into BIOS and change the boot priority to CDROM as first option, then put your windows disc in and reboot. It will format before reloading, which is what I assume you are trying to do.

January 13, 2009 3:22 PM

I have a PC with XP Home on and wanted for format my hd. I don't have any of the discs. I wanted to format my hd put XP Pro on as I have discs for that but I can't do it.
I've tried to edit the BIOS so my PC runs from the CD first thinking that disc 1 of XP Pro may act as a boot but it just boots up and goes straight to Windows Home.

Any tips?

January 21, 2009 8:22 PM

i have the same problem that it wont leave me format. but i have another problem. when i try to boot from cd it tells me to press a key to continue. but when i press a key nothing happens the pc starts again.

January 29, 2009 10:25 AM

I do not have a floppy, or CD. Can I use my flash drive/pen drive? No where has floppies when I look.

February 13, 2009 6:22 AM

my xp is in d: drive and i want to format my c: drive but It always tells me to quit the disk utilities or other programs that are using this drive how to find them please email me

February 25, 2009 3:40 PM

check that you have uninstalled everything from the hard disc and also make sure that your not using a oaging file or virtual ram off of that hard disc as this will stop you from formating

February 26, 2009 3:42 PM

Harry i cant get into the Bios i got the same machine as you DELL LATITUDE CP M166ST i click the pause break stick when the biios is showing but nothing happens...

Annelie Basson
March 27, 2009 2:57 PM

Hi. I need to format my hard drive desperately as I caught a virus somehow. My hard drive was split so it has a c drive and a d drive. I only want to format c. Can I send all my stuff that I have on c to my d drive and then format c? If I can how do I do that. When I try to move my files from c it tells me it is in use and cannot be moved. What can I do to dodge this? PLEASE HELP!!! Thanks

April 5, 2009 7:12 AM

after typing format c on cmd prmt my pc shows cannot format ..or cannot lock the hard is in use plz help me as i dont have xp boot cd..and i wnt to format my c my pc got virus infected

If you don't have a boot disk, how are you going to rebuild your system after you reformat? Reformatting erases EVERYTHING, including Windows.
- Leo

April 5, 2009 8:15 PM

hi i cannot access my computer properties or display properties. if it comes once but vanishes in few seconds. Even i cant format and reload my system with XP. Kindly help - did not match any documents.

April 28, 2009 11:12 AM

I have read all the comments, tried all the solutions but I still cannot format my second hard drive that used to be the primary drive. I have deleted all the files except the old Windows XP Pro folder on the secondary drive. I cannot remove the old Windows folder because the file named Flash9b.ocx defies removal. When trying to format through disk management the following message appears: "The primary partition is currently in use. To force format click yes. Warning: Forcing a format might cause unexpected errors in the application that is using this volume. DO you want to continue?"

I have disabled: security software, firewall, Carbonite backup, turned page file off, feed the fish and cleaned the cat box and still get this message. What is the worst that can happen if I force the format? Can we discover what is using the primary partition on this secondary drive?

May 12, 2009 6:17 AM

Please how can i format my hard drive from another computer

May 14, 2009 7:13 PM

I need to format c i got a badddd virus but windows is on it. i heard i can use DOS to run my computer. is there anyway that i can obtain a windows xp cd for free / cheap? i have my lisence and everything.

June 22, 2009 7:34 AM

I have an old 40gb seagate hdd, whatever i do i cant format it: ive used xp installer to delete it,no avail;i used erd commander bootable,still no avail;i used basic dos utilities,no avail still,...everytime i reboot the deleted files go back to its original!!!

July 8, 2009 4:34 AM

[link removed]

September 30, 2009 12:45 AM

i cant access my e drive. it says that |||||||"the disk in drive e is not formatted. do you want to format it now??" and whenever i click YES it says "the disk in drive e cannot be formatted." please help..

November 16, 2009 12:31 PM

Hi, I was formatting my c drive with visa on it and the battery died half way through. now when booting from the vista cd i get an error "windows has encountered an problem communicating with a device connected to your computer......" i tried booting from an xp cd and get a blue screen exceptional error. the hdd is visible in the bios so dont think its a physical prob. is there a boot disk or somethng i can get to allow me to format properly? any help would be greatly appreciated.

December 12, 2009 3:18 PM

Leo, i have a boot disk, but it isn't working, I unfortunately have Win 7 on my laptop, but my recovery disks are all vista, I need to delete win 7 and reinstall my original factory disks on my laptop, tried reformatting, won't work b/c volume is in use by another process, win 7 cannot be uninstalled and my vaio recovery disks are not functioning b/c I have win 7 installed, not the factory vista. what can i do?

January 13, 2010 11:33 PM

i have big problem of my hard disk .
someone deleled me my acer hdd all the data he made like empty HDD i tryed so many times to format XP and vist anfortunatly it's not allowed me so what i do i gotta do ??

hacer neo
January 28, 2010 2:22 PM

if you computer dont accept windows vista
becasue vista operatign system dont allow you to format a partition from the boot
the only way to install windows vista or higher is only to install when you computer is open

hacer neo
January 28, 2010 2:24 PM

i inster my windows xp servic pack 2 but in the boot the windows dont know any of my partition's
why ?
is a way to format my computer ?

February 2, 2010 3:13 AM

I had Winxp on c drive of my laptop. I installed win 7 on d drive and then tried to format win xp c drive from win7 d drive.
Error : cannot format. volume is in use .
why ??
I am booting from d drive so c drive will be only a simple drive .
please help .

March 20, 2010 2:41 AM

please help me to my problem, i can't use my laptop just because i cannot format my laptop, everytime start formatting the system shows that no harddrive installed in system or not properly connected, why become like that, this is my first encounter to all pc that i did before

Jim de Graff
April 11, 2010 3:46 PM

Other scenarios - you have a pagefile.sys on the volume you are trying to format, or you have a program that autostarts when you boot/login that is using a resource on that volume (perhaps virtualclonedrive is set to automount an iso image). You might try booting into safe mode and trying the format. Keep in mind that this will wipe out whatever resource is in use.

May 8, 2010 1:25 AM

I did reinstall windows xp on D drive insted of installing on C drive. Now, I need to delete/ formate the old system drive C but I am not able to do so, it always comes saying that windows was unable to complete the formate. and if i go to the disk management and select the drive to delete or formate the DELETE/ FORMATE option doesn't appear.
could youplease let me know how I can solve the problem

May 26, 2010 6:25 AM

there is an error in formating my c drive i dnt get the error is like cant read disk dirve error showing code x000031 give me solution

Jordy Brigs
May 30, 2010 8:46 PM

I tried to format my desktop (Win XP Pro) but it only reach the stage where it copies files into the installation folder. The PC would then restart and repeat the same process where it boots off the installation disc and copies the files into the installation folder. It never goes any further.
And another thing is, the PC never gives a prompt to start booting from the CD drive. It just starts automatically. What could be wrong?

June 18, 2010 3:24 AM

when i try to format my laptop, i recive that windows is only 256 and i need 512?? i see that C is full?? what's the problem

June 21, 2010 2:03 AM

You can format it from any of this methods:
- Using the windows bootable cd
- Using a boot diskette
- Entering the recovery console
Also before this methods you should backup your data using a free and easy to use software like , and store the backup on their servers.

September 6, 2010 6:52 PM

I did reinstall windows xp on D drive insted of installing on C drive. Now, I need to delete/ formate the old system drive C but I am not able to do so, it always comes saying that windows was unable to complete the formate. and if i go to the disk management and select the drive to delete or formate the DELETE/ FORMATE option doesn't appear.
could youplease let me know how I can solve the problem

October 9, 2010 1:42 AM

i'v been using my 320GB USB external hard drive for the past 3 months.
I can't format my hard drive. It kept telling me that windows can't complete the process.

December 22, 2010 5:58 AM

You can format all the harddisk except for the one with windows in it. By setting virtual memory to "no paging file" on the hard disk you wanted to format.

Doing that by open "hardware manager" under "Advance" tab, Performance, setting, Advance tab, then click "Change" Then has to restart.

Hope this help also don't forget to change it back after formating. It kinda amaze me that noone mention this technic before : )

Having your paging file on another drive is very rare. It's certainly not the default configuration, and people who set it up typically also realize what needs to be done to format.

edward parsons
January 27, 2011 4:55 AM

I cant format drive C
I cant format or overwrite by booting from cd nor floppy nor recovery console.
boots from cd all drivers then blue screen stating protecting windows go no further

marshall law
March 21, 2011 9:52 PM

AWESOME! I wasted hours trying to delete all the files off the former C: drive. Had a few files that just would not delete and were preventing format. I just changed the paging file as directed, reboot and formatting! Thanks!!! You have saved me HOURS of frustration!

May 6, 2011 9:45 PM

im trying to boot from win 7 disc for my desktop a blue screen with 5 errors come up tried formatting my hard drive to clear my win xp so i can do a clean win 7 download wont let me and tried changing bios settings to boot from my disc drive didnt work either appreciate any help thanks

If you get a blue screen booting the Windows 7 installation disk then either: a) it's an OEM disc for a different manufacturer, b) your system has a hardware problem, c) the disk is corrupt. I'd start by checking that installation disc, but then pursue it as a hardware issue that needs to be repaired.

Richard Downing
May 18, 2011 4:30 PM

I want to format a new HDD but my computer does not have a three and half inch drive.
how do I make a boot disk for the cd drive like the one three and half inch floppy that can be made using XP software.?

jackie c
May 23, 2011 4:18 AM

trying to format new hard drive for win vista laptop. using fix-it to view why it is not putting o s on hard drive...There are files on c:/
brand new hard drive...can't delete, no o s and wont install with files on hard drive

June 4, 2011 1:37 AM

so when i installed a new win7 on drive d my laptop automatically replaced it with drive c , now my recently installed win7 is c and the old one in drive b bt the way I deleted all old win7 files from drive d but cannot format it .

July 2, 2011 1:31 PM

Im trying to completely wipe my computer clean

I have my windows 7 disk

but my problem is when i am ready to reinstall win7 it keeps telling me that "I have chosen an action that will result in having my previous windows stored into a folder called "Windows.old". I dont want that, I want my computer freshly clean from how i started.

The steps here for Vista should be pretty close: How do I reformat and reinstall Windows? As an alternative you can always use DBAN on the machine first: DBAN - Darik's Boot And Nuke.

July 31, 2011 12:11 AM

How do i do a clean install on my pc when i have allready got an os on my hard drive. It wont let me format it. Can u help me please?

Mark J
July 31, 2011 7:46 AM


It may be that you are trying to install the OS while Windows is running. The article mentions rebooting from a floppy. Nowadays you must boot from a CD or DVD.

September 17, 2011 6:13 AM

My computer previously had Windows XP. Ti was infected with malware and could not boot, so I formatted the harddisk. While installing the OS, it cannot pass the "windows loading" stage. However, it brings an End User Licence Agreement which does not offer any instructions to proceed. I therefore cannot install the OS. What could be the problem? and what do I do?
Thank you in advance for your kind response

Rajvir Rana
September 28, 2011 3:42 AM

i want to secure my pc to be formetted by anyother users. can't suggest to use password for system. if any other solution is available than give me fast

September 29, 2011 11:23 PM

I am trying to format my HP 6730b that has Windows XP inside. but it says: a problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent you computer. check for viruses on your computer. remove any newly installed hard drives or hard drives controllers.
stop: 0*0000007B

October 9, 2011 2:32 AM

i need some help.. can anybody tell me what will i do to my pc cuz i can't find my hard drive when i'm reformatting my pc? plz help me.....? Thanks for your kindness....

November 8, 2011 4:19 AM

i cannot install any operating system in my laptop though i can run using hirens virtual os thoughw i tried installing os in the same hard drive to another laptop it successfully installed but in my laptop it does not my unit is sony vaio cr354

November 13, 2011 2:04 PM

I am trying to format my Acer Aspire 8730 that has Windows 7 inside. but it says: a problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent you computer. check for viruses on your computer. remove any newly installed hard drives or hard drives controllers.
stop: 0*0000007B

Stanford Brown
March 10, 2012 10:11 PM

Thank you, sound logical. I'll stop trying to format the c drive from within XP.

May 9, 2012 1:10 AM

but it says: a problem has been detected and windows has been shut down to prevent you computer. check for viruses on your computer. remove any newly installed hard drives or hard drives controller ,, im using Windows Xp but my computer is booting when i try to format my computer its say that message always

Ahmed Elanany
November 23, 2012 1:20 PM

I'd like to thank you for your great effort answering all questions in a pretty simple rich info. keep it up...

February 14, 2013 1:26 PM

I am trying to reformat my Eee PC and it keeps telling me that it can't because value is in use. It does not have a CDROM drive so I'm not sure what to do. Any advice?

Mark J
February 15, 2013 3:15 AM

I have an EEE-PC and I've used 2 methods to reinstall the system
1. I used an external USB CD/DVD drive.
2. I created a bootable USB thumb drive and installed it from that.
How do I reinstall Windows without a CD drive?

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