Force DISKPART to delete EFI system partition on Windows 10

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So you've upgraded your Windows laptop by replacing its old mechanical spinning disk hard drive with a fast SSD. Congratulations, your laptop is much faster now. What to do with the old drive though? Sure it's not fast, but it probably still has a few years of useful life in it, wouldn't it be nice to repurpose it for use as a backup drive? So you are going ahead and trying to erase the old data from it, but you encounter a problem: Windows refuses to remove the old EFI system partition that used to have Windows boot files on it. Sound familiar? This article should explain how to delete the EFI partition and erase the whole hard drive properly.

Windows offers a built-in tool for working with storage devices, Disk Management. You can run it by right-clicking on Windows 10 Start button and choosing Disk Management from the popup menu:

You can open Disk Management tool by right-clicking on the Start button.

(If you use an older version of Windows such as Windows 7, you can get to this tool by right-clicking the My Computer item on Start menu and choosing Manage from the popup menu.)

If you used this tool before, you probably know that its screen is split horizontally. The top half lists volumes and their respective drive letters, while the bottom half contains a list of the storage devices currently attached to the computer and available for use by Windows. If the old hard drive that you want to erase is connected to the computer, you should find it in the bottom part of the screen.

(Note that if you've just cloned the old hard drive to the SSD and both are attached, then Windows may keep one of them offline. If this happens to you, simply force Windows to bring the hard drive online.)

Disk Management of Windows 10 lists all available storage devices

Now back to erasing the old hard drive. First of all, make sure you recognize the drive you want to erase in the list: you don't want to accidentally erase a wrong drive. Scroll through the list in the bottom part of the Disk Management window and make sure you can identify each disk listed there: which one is the primary boot drive (usually it's the first one), which one is the CD/DVD drive, and which one represents the drive you want to erase. If in doubt, disconnect the drive from the computer and refresh the list, notice which entry would disappear. Now attach the drive back to the computer and see its entry reappearing back in the list. If you are confident which entry represents the drive you want to erase, go on.

Take a note of the disk number that Windows assigned to the hard drive you want to work with. In our example above, the disk number is 2. We will need it later on.

To remove old information from the drive, use Disk Management to delete the partitions this drive contains. Right-click each partition and choose Delete Volume from the menu:

Use Disk Management right-click menu to delete partitions

This should work on most partitions, but if the hard drive was previously used for a Windows installation, then it may contain one or two system partitions that cannot be deleted this way: when you right-click on such a partition, the popup menu does not have the Delete Volume command!

To erase the disk in such a situation, we must bring heavy artillery: the command prompt. Run the command prompt As Administrator. (If it's not on the right-click menu of the Start button, you should find it under the Windows System group on Start menu.) Now recall that the disk we want to erase was listed as Disk 2 in the Disk Management list. Enter the following commands into the command prompt to erase it:

diskpart
list disk
select disk 2
clean
exit

Before issuing the clean command, double check the list of the disks displayed and make sure you have selected the correct disk number. This is the point of no return: once the clean command is finished, all data and all partitions are deleted from the selected drive. If you have selected a wrond drive, there is no easy way to recover its data after the clean command.

While you are issuing the commands, the command prompt window should look similar to the following:

Using command prompt and DISKPART to erase a disk

The next step in the rejuvenation of the old hard disk is to initialize it. While the disk you've just cleaned is still connected to the computer, run Disk Management again, and it should prompt you to initialize the disk automatically:

Disk Management prompts you to initialize the disk

Which option to choose, MBR or GPT? This question deserves a separate article, but for now the rule of thumb is: if the disk size is less than 2TB, it's OK to choose MBR. For larger disks, choose GPT.

The final step is to create a volume on the freshly initialized disk and format it. You can do it all within the Disk Management screen, by right-clicking on the Disk 2 entry and using the New Simple Volume command on the shortcut menu:

Using Disk Management to create a new volume and format it

After the last step is done, close Disk Management, and look inside the This PC folder: your newly refreshed old hard drive should appear there, with its own drive letter, ready for use.

Happy computing!

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How to make Windows 10 recognize a cloned hard drive again

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So you've just cloned a hard drive of your Windows computer (for example, you decided to upgrade from an old 'spinning disk' style of a hard drive to a fast SSD). You've attached the freshly cloned drive to the computer, but it does not appear in the This PC folder. You are probably wondering whether the new drive is defective and should you take it back to the store for a replacement?

No need to panic just yet: most probably, your new hard drive is just fine, and you only need to give Windows a little nudge to make it recognize the newly cloned drive. Here is what to try in such a situation:

Run the Disk Management tool of Windows. The easiest way to do that is by right-clickng the Start button and choosing Disk Management from the menu:

Right-click Start menu and choose Disk Management

(If you are using an older version of Windows such as Windows 7, then right-click on My Computer on the Start Menu, and choose Manage to get access to Disk Management.)

When Disk Management opens, you will notice that its window is split horizontally roughly in the middle. Never mind the top half for now, and look at the bottom half instead. It will probably contain several thick horizontal bars, each bar representing a storage device such as a hard drive or a CD/DVD drive. (Funny how Windows calls them "disks", even though the modern devices such as SSDs or flash drives have nothing that resembles any disks inside. But I digress.)

The first bar will most probably represent the main storage device of your computer, the one that has the C: drive on it. You may need to scroll down the list to see other such devices. You can distinguish between them by noting their total sizes shown. If you locate the freshly cloned hard drive that Windows refuses to work with, you will probably see something similar to the following:

The Disk Management window contains a list of the drives attached to the computer

So, Windows informs us that this "disk" is "offline". If you move the mouse pointer over the blue (I) icon, it should provide a bit more information about the condition, most probably: "The disk is offline because it has a signature collision with another disk that is online."

What this means basically is that Windows sees the newly cloned drive as an exact copy of the original drive, including the signature of the drive, and that makes Windows confused, preventing the use of the second drive at the same time.

To alleviate confusion, all you need to do is right-click on the offline disk, and choose Online from the menu displayed:

Make Windows recognize the cloned disk by marking it Online using the right-click menu

(If you don't see the Online command on the right-click menu, make sure you are right-clicking over the leftmost part of the bar representing the problematic disk in the list, not over one of the partitions that the disk may have.)

Immediately after you choose Online from the right-click menu, Windows should accept the cloned disk as a valid one, assign drive letters to its partitions, and generally make you able to work with the cloned drives as usual.

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AB Commander 20.2 released

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February 15, 2020.

A new version 20.2 of AB Commander is available now for download and purchase!

This version offers a new option designed to improve stability and decrease a chance of a conflict with some third party shell extensions that add commands to the right-click menu of Windows.

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Folder Guard v.20.1 released

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January 21, 2020.

A new version 20.1 of Folder Guard software is available now for download and purchase!

This update offers several minor improvements and corrections.

As usual, the trial version of Folder Guard 20.1 comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your Folder Guard license within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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AB Commander 20.1 released

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January 12, 2020.

A new version 20.1 of AB Commander is available now for download and purchase!

This version offers several improvements and corrections.

As usual, the trial version of AB Commander comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your AB Commander within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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Icon Shepherd updated to v.19.10.2

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October 29, 2019.

Good news: A new version 19.10.2 of Icon Shepherd utility is available now!

This is a minor update that comes with an improved method of putting icons into their proper positions when the desktop is rather crowded. The requirement to use the 'Align to grid' setting is no longer a requirement, it's now an optional suggestion: if you prefer not to align icons to the grid, Icon Shepherd will now work with that.

As before, you can use Icon Shepherd on one computer at your home, free of charge. (For other uses, an appropriate license must be purchased.) If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your Icon Shepherd license within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge. For the earlier purchasers an upgrade discount is available.

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ActiveExit updated to v.19.10

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Octpober 7, 2019.

A new version 19.10 of ActiveExit is available now for download and purchase!

This is a minor update that corrects a problem that prevented the use of the empty ‘Apply To’ and ‘Exclude’ lists in some situations.

As usual, ActiveExit is free for the home users. For the business customers, the trial version of ActiveExit comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your ActiveExit license within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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Icon Shepherd 19.10 released

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October 7, 2018.

Good news: A new version 19.10 of Icon Shepherd utility is available now!

This is a major upgrade that introduces several new capabilities:

  • You can now save icon layouts using names of your choice, to make it easier to recognize them on the Icon Shepherd menu list.
  • You can use the Manage icon layouts screen to delete the icon layouts you don't need, to rename them, and also change the order in which they appear on the Restore icon layout menu.
  • You can use the Options screen to stop Icon Shepherd from saving icon layouts automatically, to reduce the clutter on the Restore icon layout menu.
  • For the enterprise customers, we are now offering the Icon Shepherd Administrator's Kit that can greatly simplify the deployment of Icon Shepherd to a large number of computers using Active Directory and Group Policy.

As before, you can use Icon Shepherd on one computer at your home, free of charge. (For other uses, an appropriate license must be purchased.) If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your Icon Shepherd license within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge. For the earlier purchasers an upgrade discount is available.

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Folder Guard updated to v.19.9

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September 30, 2019.

A new version 19.9 of Folder Guard software is available now for download and purchase!

This update contains some optimizations in the Folder Guard engine that improve the speed of the backup operations in some situations.

As usual, the trial version of Folder Guard 19.9 comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your Folder Guard license within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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Active Exit updated to v.19.9

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Site license from $99.95
Active Exit is compatible with Windows 10
Free for personal use:
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September 26, 2019.

A new version 19.9 of ActiveExit is available now for download and purchase!

This is a minor update that corrects a problem that prevented the display of the custom user message in some situations.

As usual, ActiveExit is free for the home users. For the business customers, the trial version of ActiveExit comes with a free license for 30 days of full use. If you have not tried it yet, please feel free to download it and give it a try.

And, of course, if you have purchased your ActiveExit license within the last 12 months, you can upgrade to this version free of charge (for the earlier purchasers the 50% upgrade discount is also available.)

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