Wipe Your C Drive on Windows 10: Easy Steps

Read this detailed post to learn a step-by-step tutorial to know how to wipe C drive in Windows 10. If you cannot format system drive directly, check out 3 secure methods to wipe C drive. One command prompt way is also provided to format C drive.


by Delia Updated on June 4, 2024

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User Case: I want to erase C drive


I bought a Windows 10 laptop and want to return it, now I need to reset it to factory settings. How do I format my C drive on Windows 10 and ensure that all of my leftover data has been removed?

The C drive is the default location where Windows 10 is installed, housing essential system files, applications, and user data. Deleting the C drive will remove all your system files and installed applications. Ensure you have a complete backup and a plan to reinstall Windows if you decide to proceed.

You can't directly format the C drive in Windows 10 using File Explorer or Disk Management. This limitation exists because the C drive contains the operating system files necessary for running Windows. To wipe the C drive, you'll need to use alternative methods specifically designed for system drives. These methods ensure that all data is securely erased without compromising the system's functionality.

cannot format c drive

How to wipe C drive in Windows 10 properly (3 cases)

In practice, the approach you should take depends on what you hope to achieve. So we summarized some common scenarios and methods where you may want to wipe and format C drive in Windows 10:

Method 1: Format C drive via Command Prompt

Method 2: Wipe C drive and reinstall Windows 10

Method 3: Clean the entire hard drive including C drive via DiskPart

Method 4: Wipe C drive or system disk via specialist software (the most secure)

Format C drive outside the Windows OS using Windows setup media.
📌>>Method 1: Although you can't format the C drive within Windows, you can do it from outside OS. You'll need to boot your computer from Windows setup media, such as a CD or bootable USB drive. Once booted, you can use the Command Prompt to format the C drive.
Free up space and resolve system errors, then install a clean copy of Windows to get better performance.
Method 2: If you simply want to clean up C drive in Windows to free up some disk space, you can uninstall those rarely used apps, and run disk cleanup to delete temporary files, thumbnails, downloaded files, etc. But if you want to wipe only C drive completely and reinstall Windows 10 through Reset this PC.
Remove everything off the disk (including the C drive) so as to discard the hard drive securely.
Method 2 or Method 3: Manual deletion is not secure because the deleted data is still recoverable. To clean a hard drive in Windows 10 completely, you can use it.
Delete Windows installation from the old hard drive and keep it as a secondary storage.
Method 2 or Method 3: If you only want to make Windows boot smoothly from the new hard drive, then you don't have to delete the old C drive. Just press the specific key during startup to enter BIOS, and set the new hard drive as the first boot option. But if you want to erase the old hard drive for more storage space, try these two ways.

If you want to wipe everything on C drive

Use this tool to wipe only C drive, the entire disk, or specific partitions with selectable security levels. Details »

Download Disk CleanerWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
20,000,000 people have downloaded it

Method 1: Format C drive via Command Prompt

Step 1: Insert the Windows installation media (CD, DVD, or USB) into your computer and enter the BIOS to set the boot sequence to boot from this media.

Step 2: When prompted, select your language, time and currency format, and keyboard input method. Click "Next" to continue.

Step 3: On the following screen, click "Repair your computer" in the lower-left corner.

Step 4: In the "Choose an option" window, select "Troubleshoot," then click on "Advanced options."

Step 5: From the "Advanced options" menu, choose "Command Prompt."

command prompt

Step 6: In the Command Prompt window, type "format c: /fs" and press "Enter."

Alternatively, you can click "Install now" from step 3 to proceed to the "Install Windows" screen, where you can select the C (primary) drive and click "Format" to format the C drive.

Diskpart Format Ntfs

Method 2: Wipe C drive and reinstall Windows 10

In Windows 10, you can use Reset this PC feature to reset the computer to factory settings. It will give you options to reset Windows 10 and keep files, or directly remove everything from the PC.

To be precise, “Keep my files” will remove apps, and settings but keep your personal files in a system partition (usually C drive), and “Remove everything” will remove all your apps, settings as well as personal files. You can make your choice accordingly and then perform reinstallation.

1. Access Windows 10 Reset this PC by following approaches:

Inside Windows: Start > Settings > Update & Security > Recovery > Reset this PC

From boot: Insert installation CD or recovery drive to boot to WinRE> Select language and region > Next > Repair your computer > Troubleshot > Reset this PC

reset this pc

2. If your PC has more than one drive on the system disk, by selecting Remove Everything, you will be given options to remove files from Only the drive where Windows is installed, or from All drives. To wipe only C drive, you can select the first one.

only c drive or all drives

3. Then you can choose Just remove my files to perform a quick format or choose Fully Clean the drive to write zeros to the hard drive and therefore make it difficult to recover the deleted data.

remove files or fully clean the drive

4. Confirm the operation and start Reset.

When it’s complete, your computer will reboot and proceed to set up Windows.

Method 3: Clean the entire hard drive including C drive via DiskPart

To erase an entire system disk including the C drive, the easiest solution is to use DiskPart. With the “clean” command, you can quickly format all the MBR or GPT partitions, which is faster but less secure. If you’ve stored some sensitive data on the hard drive and want to make it unrecoverable, you can use the “clean all” command instead.

1. Run Command Prompt in Windows 10 or from boot.

After erasing, the hard drive will become unallocated and uninitialized. So if you want to clean your current system disk, please boot to Windows 10 recovery options to use Command Prompt.

command prompt

2. Enter the following commands and press Enter after each line.

List disk
Disk x
Clean all

*x refers to the disk you want to erase.

clean all

When the operation is complete, if you want to use the disk as a secondary storage, you need to initialize it first.

Method 4: Wipe C drive or system disk via specialist software (the most secure)

Since there are different scenarios for erasing C drive, is there a solution that can fulfill all these demands?

The answer is yes, with specialist software like AOMEI Backupper Professional, you will be given options to wipe the entire system disk, only the C drive, or other individual partitions.

It has a powerful Disk Wipe feature for any internal/external hard drive, partition, USB flash drive, etc. As a full-fledged backup software, you can also use it to prevent unexpected data loss caused by data erasing.

As for sensitive data, you probably know Windows uses zero filling to prevent them from being recovered. It provides you with four wiping methods, like DoD 5220.22-M with up to 7 passes and Gutmann with 35 passes.

Click the download button below to have a try:

FREE DownloadWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

How to wipe C drive securely in Windows 10/8/7:

1. The erased data is unrecoverable, so please go to the Backup tab and make a File Backup first to protect the important data you don’t want to lose. Then switch to the Tools tab and select Disk Wipe.

Disk Wipe

2. Choose to wipe selected partitions & unallocated space, or wipe all the partitions on the disk. By choosing the former, you can select only C drive on the next page; for the latter, you can select the system disk to erase. Then click Next to continue.

Wiping Type

3. Choose the wiping method you need and Start disk wiping. Safer wiping methods come with more passes and lower wiping speeds.

Wiping Method

· To wipe the current system disk or C drive with Windows installed, this software will reboot to WinPE to execute the operation. You won’t be able to enter the system after completion.
· This feature doesn’t support wiping dynamic disks.

FAQs about formatting C drive

1. Is formatting the same as deleting a hard drive?

No, formatting and data wiping are different. Data wiping permanently deletes and destroys data on a storage device, making it unrecoverable. Formatting prepares a storage device for use by resetting the file system and deleting all saved data.

2. Does formatting reduce the lifespan of a hard drive?

Not necessarily. It depends on the reason for formatting, the method used the type of drive, and its contents. Generally, formatting does not reduce the lifespan of a hard drive, but excessive full/raw formatting could potentially shorten its life. Quick formatting, which just clears the tables, is less impactful.

3. Does formatting a hard drive remove viruses?

Formatting a hard drive can remove viruses, but it's not always necessary. An up-to-date antivirus program can usually detect and eliminate viruses without the need for formatting. However, in severe cases, formatting may be a solution to remove stubborn malware.


The C drive is usually the system drive that contains many crucial files. So you must be extra careful when trying to wipe the C drive in Windows 10.

In addition to Resetting this PC and DiskPart, AOMEI Backupper is also a good choice with its disk wipe feature. It gives you more freedom to choose what to wipe, and how to wipe, and includes a backup feature to protect important files.

Moreover, if you are trying to replace the old hard drive with a new one, and transfer the operating system to it, AOMEI Backupper also contains a disk clone feature to help you move the Windows 10 installation to another drive. After that, you can boot from the new drive and then use Disk Wipe to erase the old hard drive as you like.

Delia · Editor
Delia owns extensive experience in writing technology-related blog posts, and has been a part of AOMEI since 2020 to provide expertise in data security and disaster recovery. She works with Windows operating systems, SQL databases, and virtualization platforms such as VMware and Hyper-V, specializing in troubleshooting and advising on data protection and migration.