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

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🐧 73 comments so far... add one

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73 comments… add one
  • aniket Mar 11, 2008 @ 13:53

    yah thats good for understand………

  • aniket Mar 11, 2008 @ 13:55

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

    • punam sen Dec 3, 2010 @ 18:27

      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 @ 19:42

        That’s retarded.

      • Anand Oct 5, 2013 @ 16:47

        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

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

  • 🐧 nixCraft Mar 11, 2008 @ 14:20


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

  • ankur Mar 27, 2008 @ 5:36

    How do I format a harddisk using linux system call

  • lakshmikanthan Jul 9, 2008 @ 13:54


    thank you fro valuable information

  • dragon Aug 1, 2008 @ 7:52

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

  • Nagarajan Jan 6, 2009 @ 15:11


    Thank you very much this valuable information.


  • Iyyappan Jan 29, 2009 @ 8:16

    /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 Nov 4, 2011 @ 21:48

      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 Aug 22, 2012 @ 0:55

        Thanks bjaanes

  • shyam kumar Feb 24, 2009 @ 5:50

    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 Mar 22, 2011 @ 10:07

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

  • HyPerCuBe Mar 12, 2009 @ 15:56

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

  • Sathish Apr 16, 2009 @ 10:47


    Thank you very much this valuable information. Very useful this

    B. Sathish.

  • Prasoon May 11, 2009 @ 18:18

    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

    Thank you.
    nice and clear.

  • LinuxUser Jul 14, 2009 @ 8:10

    Excellent and easy. Thanx

  • Charanjit Singh Cheema Jul 18, 2009 @ 7:20

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

    Charanjit Singh Cheema

  • Carlo Aug 16, 2009 @ 11:14

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

  • antonio Aug 21, 2009 @ 22:23

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

  • Jam Sep 1, 2009 @ 10:00

    Yes. Very useful. Thanks.

  • anburaja Sep 9, 2009 @ 12:11

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

  • anburaja Sep 9, 2009 @ 12:13

    god bless you

  • Lion Sep 21, 2009 @ 19:42

    Very simple and useful, thanks :)

  • Chris Nov 6, 2009 @ 2:08

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

  • Sanjay Jan 15, 2010 @ 10:59

    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 Apr 14, 2010 @ 6:50

    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 @ 13:48

    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 @ 14:14

    very helpfull , thanks.

  • aaron May 14, 2010 @ 17:29

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

  • Abdelmannan May 23, 2010 @ 12:07

    Hello all,

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


  • Pankaj, Lucknow Jun 7, 2010 @ 11:26

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

  • mumunendra kumar Jul 26, 2010 @ 16:42

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

  • vahid Aug 26, 2010 @ 3:02

    thanks alot ,,,,, that was really usefull

  • sandeep choudhary Aug 27, 2010 @ 13:52

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

  • raj Sep 30, 2010 @ 18:46

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

  • sathishkumar Oct 14, 2010 @ 14:53

    The above steps are so good and easy to format

    Thank u Very much for your Formating steps.

  • linux Dec 18, 2010 @ 16:12

    a very nice article. thank you for sharing.

  • kunal Dec 30, 2010 @ 10:10

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

  • bapi Jan 30, 2011 @ 5:04

    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 Feb 6, 2011 @ 1:04

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

  • tmel173 Jun 1, 2011 @ 16:09

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

  • Narendra Jun 10, 2011 @ 4:28

    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 Sep 12, 2011 @ 8:39

      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 Jul 31, 2011 @ 15:42

    Good tuto, thank you

  • retheesh Oct 4, 2011 @ 15:31

    very good solution thanks…

  • Ashok Dec 13, 2011 @ 2:39

    Very Good solution.


  • Zero Feb 11, 2012 @ 12:58

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

  • BINU RAJAN Mar 22, 2012 @ 17:49

    Vivek Gite U R GREAT

  • brandon Apr 20, 2012 @ 19:11

    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 @ 20:48

      Very good and concise tutorial, thank you.

  • Vicky Jul 2, 2012 @ 12:50


    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 Jul 30, 2012 @ 18:24

    Very clear & complete. Keep it up..!

  • Ahphu Aug 18, 2012 @ 4:57

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

  • Nickiest Feb 12, 2013 @ 9:08

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

  • Tejas Sakhare Apr 29, 2013 @ 5:50

    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 Jun 8, 2013 @ 10:32

    thank to much sir

  • Paola L. Aug 8, 2014 @ 8:48

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

  • sarah Sep 9, 2014 @ 6:12

    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 Sep 16, 2014 @ 19:42


  • Chhen Korn Jun 15, 2015 @ 8:03

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

  • Shankito Aug 5, 2015 @ 21:00

    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

  • Toek Sarin Jan 20, 2016 @ 10:11

    thank you so much for share this Document and when I saw it make me clear for do my assignment.

    Thank you

  • Adriano Mar 12, 2016 @ 6:13

    Simple and clear. thank you!

  • Jorge Gonzalez Sep 6, 2016 @ 15:13

    Excellent thank you so much.

  • David Nov 20, 2016 @ 9:20

    I have some read errors that are causing the log tree to fail to recover. The HD seems to function but I have been unsuccessful at repairing or reinstalling Opensuse OS. I keep finding commands to try but when I try them I get “command not found”. Finally I thought I would reformat but I can’t even get the fdisk commands described here to work either. What do I do?

  • senju Dec 1, 2016 @ 2:54

    where should i go ? because im looking the step by step reformat of ebondo?linux?

  • Luis Quissak Dec 29, 2016 @ 11:52

    Very useful, thanks!!

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