A friend of mine just called me the other day, telling me about a problem that he had with his Windows 7 system. He bought a new hard drive and connected it to the PC. The hard drive was detected just fine in the computer's BIOS, but did not turn up in Windows Explorer after the operating system finished loading.
What he apparently did not know is that it is necessary to configure a drive so that it becomes available in Windows. New hard drives usually do not come with a file system pre-installed, which means that it is up to the user to pick a file system so that the hard disk can be accessed in the operating system.
In Windows 7 this is done with the Disk Management tool. The easiest way to load Disk Management is to press Windows-R, type diskmgmt.msc and hit enter.
Disk Management lists all connected drives. This can be drives that already have a file system, drives that have not been initialized yet and optical drives such as CD and DVD drives.
The most important part of the following operation is to pick the right drive. The easiest way to find the new drive in the drive listing is to find the drive with the right storage space. In his case, it was relatively easy as he bought a new 60 Gigabyte Solid State Drive.
The drive needs to be initialized, this is done by selecting it in the drive listing, right-clicking afterwards and clicking Initialize Disk from the context menu.
It is now important to select the right disk from the menu. Important because there may be multiple disks that are not initialized. Disks can be unselected from the menu. It is usually sufficient to select the MBR partition style, unless the disk that needs to be initialized is larger than 2 Terabytes or is used on Itanium based computers.
The process takes a few seconds the most, and the status of the disk should change from Not Initialized to Online. The drive space on the other hand is still shown as unallocated. This is because no file system has been selected yet for the drive.
The drive can be formatted by right-clicking on the Unallocated space in Disk Management, and selecting New Simple Volume. There are other options but those are usually for more advanced uses.
The operating system will then walk the user through setting up the hard drive so that it can be accessed in Windows.
The first step is to select the volume size for the drive, which usually should be the maximum size available unless the drive should be partitioned.
After that a drive letter can be selected for the new hard drive, so that it becomes accessible in Windows 7.
In the last step, the file system can be selected. It is NTFS by default and it is usually not required to make any changes here. It may make sense however to change the volume label for better identification of the drive in Windows.
The formatting should not take long and the drive becomes available right after the operation ends.
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Ghacks is a technology news blog that was founded in 2005 by Martin Brinkmann. It has since then become one of the most popular tech news sites on the Internet with five authors and regular contributions from freelance writers.