By Emily / Last Updated October 24, 2019

Need to delete files from a full external hard drive

An external hard drive is mostly used to hold documents, images, music, videos and other personal files. Although many external hard drives come with significant storage space, you may receive low disk space warning after storing many large files/applications/programs to the hard drive. Then you might need to delete some files from it to release some space for new data.

How to delete files from external hard drive successfully?

No matter what is your reason for removing files from external hard drives, there are four different methods available in Windows 10/8/7.

Method 1. Delete files one by one in File Explorer (Recoverable)

First of all, we would like to show you the most traditional way to delete files from hard drive in Windows 10/8/7.

Step 1. Connect your external hard drive to your computer. Double click on “My Computer/This PC” to open File Explorer.

Step 2. Double click the external hard drive. Browse through the files/folders to find the one you want to remove, right click it and select “Delete” from the drop-down menu.

Delete Folder

Besides, you can also click on the file icon and drag it to your Recycle Bin directly. Take the same steps to delete all the unnecessary files from your external hard drives.

Note:if you just want to delete some files from external hard drive permanently, you can search online for professional software. If you plan to delete all files on the hard drive, try the following methods.

Method 2. Delete/Format volume on the hard drive (Recoverable)

Deleting files one by one could take a longer time especially when you need to remove a large number of files. In such situation, you can try deleting or formatting an entire partition on the external hard drive, which can remove all files stored in it at one time.

To delete and format volume in Windows 10/8/7, you make use of Disk Management: right click the partition containing the files, select “Delete Volume” or “Format …” and follow the prompts to finish those two operations. But sometimes the “Format…” or “Delete Volume” greyed out. In such cases, you need a powerful disk manager software like AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. With it, you can delete/format/create/resize/copy partitions with ease.

Part 1. Delete partition to remove files from external hard drive:

Step 1. Download the freeware, install and run it on your Windows computer, right click the target partition on your external hard drive and select “Delete Partition”.

Delete Sd Card Partition

Step 2. Select a proper deletion method according to your requirements and click “OK”.

Deleting Method

Step 3. Click “Apply” and then “Proceed” to commit the pending operation.

After this, the partition will turn into an unallocated space and the files within it are removed. You can right click the unallocated space to create a new partition.

Part 2. Format partition to delete files from external hard drive:

Step 1. Launch AOMEI Partition Assistant on your Windows computer, right click the target partition and select “Format Partition”.

Format Partitoin

Step 2. Choose a file system from the given options (Here we choose FAT32) and click “OK”.

Fat32 128gb Usb

Step 3. Click “Apply” to start formatting the chosen partition.


No matter whether you remove files one by one, or delete/format the entire partition as the methods above, the removed files can be recovered with the right data recovery program. That’s because these methods just delete links to the data so they become invisible to you, but the actual data is still on the disk.

So these methods are good enough when the data security or privacy protection is not an issue. What if you don’t want someone else to recover your deleted sensitive data? Go for the next method to learn how to delete files from external hard drive permanently.

Method 3. Wipe the hard drive completely (Unrecoverable)

In order to delete files from external hard drive permanently without recovery, you need to wipe the hard drive, rather than formatting or deleting disk partition. But Windows itself does not provides disk wiping solutions. Luckily, AOMEI Partition Assistant can help you in this case, too.

Note: If the external hard drive is an SSD drive, you need to upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional which offers “SSD Secure Erase Wizard”, allowing you to clear data on most common SSD drives.

If the external hard drive is an HDD, take the following steps:

Step 1. In the main console of AOMEI Partition Assistant, right click the external hard drive and select “Wipe Hard drive”.

Wipe Hard Drive 16gb

Step 2. Select the first way to wipe data from the hard drive and click “OK”.

Fit Sectors With Zero 16gb

Step 3. Click “Apply” to execute the operation.

Apply 16gb

Final words

With four different methods introduced in detail, now you must know how to delete files from external hard drive. Which method to choose depends on your personal requirements.