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Linux Hard Disk Format Command

Q. I've installed a new 250GB SATA hard disk on our office CentOS Linux server. How do I format a hard disk under Linux operating system from a shell prompt?

A.. There are total 4 steps involved for hard disk upgrade and installation procedure:

Step #1 : Partition the new disk using fdisk command

Following command will list all detected hard disks:
# fdisk -l | grep '^Disk'

Disk /dev/sda: 251.0 GB, 251000193024 bytes
Disk /dev/sdb: 251.0 GB, 251000193024 bytes

A device name refers to the entire hard disk. For more information see Linux partition naming convention and IDE drive mappings.
To partition the disk - /dev/sdb, enter:
# fdisk /dev/sdb
The basic fdisk commands you need are:

  • m - print help
  • p - print the partition table
  • n - create a new partition
  • d - delete a partition
  • q - quit without saving changes
  • w - write the new partition table and exit

Step#2 : Format the new disk using mkfs.ext3 command

To format Linux partitions using ext2fs on the new disk:
# mkfs.ext3 /dev/sdb1

Step#3 : Mount the new disk using mount command

First create a mount point /disk1 and use mount command to mount /dev/sdb1, enter:
# mkdir /disk1
# mount /dev/sdb1 /disk1
# df -H

Step#4 : Update /etc/fstab file

Open /etc/fstab file, enter:
# vi /etc/fstab
Append as follows:

/dev/sdb1               /disk1           ext3    defaults        1 2

Save and close the file.

Task: Label the partition

You can label the partition using e2label. For example, if you want to label the new partition /backup, enter
# e2label /dev/sdb1 /backup
You can use label name insted of partition name to mount disk using /etc/fstab:
LABEL=/backup /disk1 ext3 defaults 1 2

{ 67 comments… add one }

  • aniket March 11, 2008, 1:53 pm

    yah thats good for understand………

  • aniket March 11, 2008, 1:55 pm

    i have 48TB storage server in raid 5, how do i format this server?

    • punam sen December 3, 2010, 6:27 pm

      to format the corresponding hdd you need a RAM(Random Access Memory) 1 YB(yota byte)
      1YB=1024 ZB
      1ZB=1024 XB
      1XB=1024 PB
      1PB=1024 TB

      • HAHA May 3, 2013, 7:42 pm

        That’s retarded.

      • Anand October 5, 2013, 4:47 pm

        LOL, I’ve got 1 UB (UnniByte) RAM on my Server

        1YB=1024 ZB
        1ZB=1024 XB
        1XB=1024 PB
        1PB=1024 TB

        Is it possible to format my 1.4 MB floppy now?

      • as pon FB May 3, 2014, 9:01 am

        I have 90’90 power of per zylions! So what? You’ve only got a pint of milk!!! does your processor register ????

  • nixCraft March 11, 2008, 2:20 pm


    Use LVM directly or read this tutorial which explains how to create partition larger than 2TB

  • ankur March 27, 2008, 5:36 am

    How do I format a harddisk using linux system call

  • lakshmikanthan July 9, 2008, 1:54 pm


    thank you fro valuable information

  • dragon August 1, 2008, 7:52 am

    how to format a disk by cpp programe?is there any sample code ?

  • Nagarajan January 6, 2009, 3:11 pm


    Thank you very much this valuable information.


  • Iyyappan January 29, 2009, 8:16 am

    /dev/sdb1 /disk1 ext3 defaults 1 2

    The above line what is mean by defaults and what is 1 2 ?

    can u explain those two things !

    • bjaanes November 4, 2011, 9:48 pm

      This is directly from the arch linux (amazing) documentation:

      1. The first number is “dump”: used by the dump utility to decide when to make a backup. Dump checks the entry and uses the number to decide if a file system should be backed up. Possible entries are 0 and 1. If 0, dump will ignore the file system; if 1, dump will make a backup. Most users will not have dump installed, so they should put 0 for the entry.
      2. The second number is “pass”: used by fsck to decide which order filesystems are to be checked. Possible entries are 0, 1 and 2. The root file system should have the highest priority 1 – all other file systems you want to have checked should have a 2. File systems with a value 0 will not be checked by the fsck utility.
      • Pgt August 22, 2012, 12:55 am

        Thanks bjaanes

  • shyam kumar February 24, 2009, 5:50 am

    IN my system both WINDOWS-XP and LINUX , I’ve installed. after that
    I want to format the linux OS from my system.
    so please send to me tricks or method on Email addr., so i can remove LUNUX OS from my system.
    BY both method (i)Text command and
    (ii)without Text command.

    • Greatkanth March 22, 2011, 10:07 am

      Hey man I also have same problem .did u got any methods to remove . please help man

  • HyPerCuBe March 12, 2009, 3:56 pm

    verrrrrrrrry useful i’ve searched for 2 days for this thanks

  • Sathish April 16, 2009, 10:47 am


    Thank you very much this valuable information. Very useful this

    B. Sathish.

  • Prasoon May 11, 2009, 6:18 pm

    I have installed CentOS ..
    now i want my disk to be fully formatted like a new one. with no files on it..

    i remember doing it by booting in DOS mode in Win98..
    Please tell how can i do it..

  • mjisri May 20, 2009, 4:06 am

    Thank you.
    nice and clear.

  • LinuxUser July 14, 2009, 8:10 am

    Excellent and easy. Thanx

  • Charanjit Singh Cheema July 18, 2009, 7:20 am

    Nice information and esp. the link that you posted for Anikat. Information really useful pal. Thanks a ton..

    Charanjit Singh Cheema

  • Carlo August 16, 2009, 11:14 am

    Thank you, this is the kind of fast reference that one is always looking for

  • antonio August 21, 2009, 10:23 pm

    Well, this saved me an hour of banging my head against the wall… well written! thanks!

  • Jam September 1, 2009, 10:00 am

    Yes. Very useful. Thanks.

  • anburaja September 9, 2009, 12:11 pm

    help me to see the out put of the php programe, i have php 2007 developer

  • anburaja September 9, 2009, 12:13 pm

    god bless you

  • Lion September 21, 2009, 7:42 pm

    Very simple and useful, thanks :)

  • Chris November 6, 2009, 2:08 am

    Great. Searched for a long time to find this, very well done. Thanks!

  • Sanjay January 15, 2010, 10:59 am

    Can any one tell me what the mean by 1,2 in default and when i create a raid partition is there any change in default charcter or it is sama as ” default” .

  • manikandan April 14, 2010, 6:50 am

    IN my Laptop both WINDOWS-XP and LINUX, i’ve safe the problem in windows hal.dll file is corrupted.
    so please send to me tricks or method on Email addr.

  • Rick May 1, 2010, 1:48 pm

    Good Recipe for what I did in UNIX for years with the simple format command.
    You boiled it down to an excellent example…

  • Sigie May 1, 2010, 2:14 pm

    very helpfull , thanks.

  • aaron May 14, 2010, 5:29 pm

    very first command (fdisk /dev/sdb) failed. message is “Unable to open /dev/sdb”. any suggestions?

  • Abdelmannan May 23, 2010, 12:07 pm

    Hello all,

    Is there any software to bound two NIC to use on ip address for both NICs.


  • Pankaj, Lucknow June 7, 2010, 11:26 am

    Thank you very much these are very good and easy way commands to understand for the people.

  • mumunendra kumar July 26, 2010, 4:42 pm

    how to format linex form my system plz reply solution at my email

  • vahid August 26, 2010, 3:02 am

    thanks alot ,,,,, that was really usefull

  • sandeep choudhary August 27, 2010, 1:52 pm

    how many formatting for window and linux
    plz sand ams on my email address

  • raj September 30, 2010, 6:46 pm

    I deleted the panel in ubuntu by mistake.. how can i get the default panels?

  • sathishkumar October 14, 2010, 2:53 pm

    The above steps are so good and easy to format

    Thank u Very much for your Formating steps.

  • linux December 18, 2010, 4:12 pm

    a very nice article. thank you for sharing.

  • kunal December 30, 2010, 10:10 am

    how do installed linux …. with command ???? tell me all command…????

  • bapi January 30, 2011, 5:04 am

    IN my system both WINDOWS-XP and LINUX , I’ve installed. after that
    I want to format the linux OS from my system.
    so please send to me tricks or method on Email addr., so i can remove LUNUX OS from my system.
    BY both method (i)Text command and
    (ii)without Text command.

  • Guy February 6, 2011, 1:04 am

    Good article.
    Note: this works on centos 5.5 … fyi.

  • tmel173 June 1, 2011, 4:09 pm

    This is beautiful!!! There are some who care out there..

  • Narendra June 10, 2011, 4:28 am

    IN my system both WINDOWS-XP and LINUX , I’ve installed. after that
    I want to format the linux OS from my system.
    so please send to me tricks or method on Email addr., so i can remove LUNUX OS from my system.
    BY both method
    (i)Text command and
    (ii)without Text command.

    • Aravind September 12, 2011, 8:39 am

      Hi Naren…I need to format my linux suse10.3 from my system.Will you please help me how to do.i am very new to this linux.If u have any tricks means please send me that files also.Aravind
      Thank you

  • paco July 31, 2011, 3:42 pm

    Good tuto, thank you

  • retheesh October 4, 2011, 3:31 pm

    very good solution thanks…

  • Ashok December 13, 2011, 2:39 am

    Very Good solution.


  • Zero February 11, 2012, 12:58 pm

    just wanted to let you know you just saved my life, cheers mate

  • BINU RAJAN March 22, 2012, 5:49 pm

    Vivek Gite U R GREAT

  • brandon April 20, 2012, 7:11 pm

    I am using VMWare version 8 to run backtrack 5 and I added another hard drive to it. How do I format the drive to place a rainbow table on the said drive?

    • Sia Gi May 15, 2012, 8:48 pm

      Very good and concise tutorial, thank you.

  • Vicky July 2, 2012, 12:50 pm


    I have a FS created with the below cmd and started using fine.

    mkfs.ext3 /dev/sdb1
    (/dev/sdb1 been allocated from SAN with 1 TB capacity)

    Now, I have resized the disk /dev/sdb1 to 2 TB from the SAN. After this my filesystem doesn’t show the resized capacity of 2 TB :(, it still shows as 1 TB. What has to be done to get the FS space resized without data loss ?

    Please help with this.

    Thank you.

  • Vimal July 30, 2012, 6:24 pm

    Very clear & complete. Keep it up..!

  • Ahphu August 18, 2012, 4:57 am

    I have 640GB. how to format this hard disk for Linux operating system?
    Please help me solution…..

  • Nickiest February 12, 2013, 9:08 am

    I think you make a wrong typing in mkfs. In the line is hdb not sdb. ok?

  • Tejas Sakhare April 29, 2013, 5:50 am

    I have 1.60GB. how to format this hard disk of Linux OS System. I have try but disk not detected for formatting. I want to OS Windows
    Please help me solution…..

  • lalji June 8, 2013, 10:32 am

    thank to much sir

  • Paola L. August 8, 2014, 8:48 am

    Written in a clear and simple!!
    Thank you :)

  • sarah September 9, 2014, 6:12 am

    I am extremely techie challenged :( I do not know what kind of linux I have on my laptop. All I want to do is format my USB drive but I receive an error message.

    Sorry, could not display all the contents of “THE GALILEO”: Error when getting information for file ‘/media/sarah/THE GALILEO/FOUND.000’: Input/output error

    Easy way to correct and format?

  • Wellington Torrejais da Silva September 16, 2014, 7:42 pm


  • Chhen Korn June 15, 2015, 8:03 am

    could you tell me about how install linux in pc step by step?

  • Shankito August 5, 2015, 9:00 pm

    U ttract from teh very stupid peeple.

    Canopener u tell me hot to format my hippocampus with using dd from commander lion?

    I tired “# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/hippo1”

    but a large aminal dieded instead.

    God blast you and tanks

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