How to delete a protected EFI system partition with Windows 10, 8, or 7

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As you probably know, in order to be able to store files on a hard drive, it needs to be prepared just right: it needs to be initialized, partitioned, and formatted just the right way. If you've bought an external drive in a store, the preparation has probably been already done by the drive manufacturer. However, what if you want the drive to be prepared differently? For example, you may want to re-format the drive, or change the partitions that it has. The way to do such tasks in Windows is to use the Disk Management tool that comes preinstalled with Windows.

To get to the Disk Management tool, click on the Start button, right-click on Computer, and choose Manage from the menu:

Opening Windows Computer Management console from Start menu

If you use Windows 10, right-click on the Start button, and choose Disk Management from the menu instead.

Before you continue, first things first: Disk Management is a very powerful tool, and with great power comes great responsibility! If you are not very experienced with computers, you can look, but better not touch and let someone more knowledgeable to do the job. Because with Disk Management it's very easy to destroy your partitions and lose your files, if you don't know what you are doing.

Windows Disk Management console

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The most important thing when using the Disk Management tool is to make sure you can identify the disk you want to manage in the list. Usually you can do it by the total size of the disk displayed, although it may be confusing. For example, in this example, a hard drive that's described as a 60 GB drive by the manufacturer, is shown to have only 55.89 GB by Windows. (Apparently, the disk manufacturers and Windows have a different understanding of what a "gigabyte" is.) Also, if you have several disks of the same size attached, it may get even more confusing. If in doubt, better unplug all external drives except for the one you actually want to work with, to make sure you are not accidentally erasing data on a wrong disk!

In our case, the 60 GB disk (shown as 55.89 GB disk in the list) is Disk 4 (let's remember this number, we will need it a bit later.) It has two partitions, one is a 200MB EFI partition that has no drive letter assigned, and another NTFS partition of the size 55.69 GB, that has the label test and the drive letter F:. Although these two partitions looks similar, they are treated very differently by Windows. If you right-click on the normal NTFS partition, you should see the normal menu that lets you perform various tasks on that partition, including the Delete Volume command:

Context menu for the regular disk partitions

However, if we right-click on the first EFI partition, the menu we get is completely disabled:

Context menu for the EFI disk partition is disabled

As you can see, the system partition is protected in such a way that even the powerful Disk Management tool cannot do anything to it. Note that it's not because the partition is EFI, it's because the tool that created that partition had marked it in a way that prohibits other tools to tamper with it. However, what if we want to delete the EFI system partition and re-initialize the disk from scratch?

While the Disk Management tool is helpless in this situation, fortunately Windows offers yet another tool, DISKPART, that can do things to the disks that Disk Management can't. The tricky part is, that DISKPART is a command-line tool, that requires us to type commands into its command prompt to make it do what we want.

To get access to the DISKPART tool, first let's open the Windows command prompt in the "administrator" mode. We can do that by clicking the Start button and entering cmd in the search box:

Locating the command line prompt using the Start menu

(If you use Windows 8 that has no Start Menu, you can get our StartFinity utility to get the Start Menu back.)

Make sure that cmd is highlighted on the menu above, but do not press the Enter key yet! Instead, press the Ctrl and Shift keys together, and while keeping them depressed, press Enter. The Ctrl+Shift combination makes the command prompt to open in the "administrator" mode. To start the DISKPART tool, enter the diskpart command into the command prompt window:

Starting the DISKPART command from the command prompt

This should display the DISKPART command prompt. The first command we should use is list disk that should display the list of the disks currently connected to the computer:

Listing the disks with the DISKPART command

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Again, it's very important to properly identify the disk we want to work with in the list. Our 60 GB disk is still listed as Disk 4 with the capacity 55 GB. Once we are sure that this is the disk we want to re-initialize, we need to select it, by entering the command select disk 4 (yes, that's how selection is usually done when using the command line tools!). Then, let's use the list disk command again, to confirm that the disk in question is indeed now selected:

Selecting the disk with the DISKPART command

After double-checking that Disk 4 is now selected (it should have the star character * in front of its label), it's time to finally issue the command that will erase everything on the disk 4, including the protected partition. The command that does that is clean. Note that this command erases everything on the selected disk, all partitions, protected or not. If you still have files on other partitions of disk 4 that you want to keep, you should exit now and backup those files, because after using the clean command all such files will be erased without a trace!

Erasing the disk with the DISKPART clean command

After the clean command is done (it should take no more than a few seconds), we get a fresh disk with all partitions erased. We can exit the DISKPART command prompt (by typing exit into its command line), and go back to the Disk Management tool (see above how to open it.) When it starts, it automatically detects the presence of the clean disk and prompts us to initialize it:

Initializing the clean disk with the Disk Management tool

Press OK and the newly cleaned disk will appear in the list. The difference is, the protected EFI partition is gone! (The normal NTFS partition that used to be on the disk 4, is gone, too.) The disk is now ready for you to start creating partitions, formatting them, and do other things as needed:

Working with the clean disk with the Disk Management tool

Note that if you are trying to erase the system disk that hosts the C: drive where Windows itself is installed and running, then even the powerful DISKPART command can't work: Windows simply refuses to erase the drive from which it is running. To erase such a disk, you need to physically remove it from the computer, attach it to another computer as an external drive, and then use DISKPART on that computer to erase the disk.

Happy disk managing!

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  1. If you vae a boot disk or a recovery disk you need to use soeonme elses computer and load the disk onto a flash drive.Look on ebay there are a few people that sell the boot disk loaded onto a flash drive.It will work only if it is copied right.Otherwise there is nothing you can do unless you take it in to have soeonme to look at it and take care of it for you

  2. As a Newbie, I am constantly searching online for articles that can benefit me. Thank you

  3. Thanks. worked like a charm. I updated something that looked like Adobe reader and clicked with out thinking. It took the C drive and converted it to GPT disk. That was not fun.

  4. Andrew: most probably, your disk has a hardware problem. You may want to visit the manufacturer’s web site and see if they offer a tool that could check the drive for errors. Good luck!

  5. Thanks alot, this was a good article that helped me alot. Notis, i was needed to disconnect and reconnect my external HDD and restart the Disk Management to be abel to get this ”Initialize Disk” promt.

  6. Thanks, want to get Hackintosh Lion off one of my Harddrives. It was fun testing and messing around with it but I ran into problems like only getting two speakers out of my 5 speaker set to work. Also, Safari worked poorly. I think with my 2nd harddrive I’m going to try a Linux OS call Pear 6.1.

  7. i have a big prob. a vaio laptop with OS Win8, at the fisrt day i wanted to make a pertition using Eseus pertition master but i think a did a mistake to using it. after reboot windows is not statìrting because does not recognise the boot disk, now when i start the pc it shows me to select keyboard layout language and a recovery utilitis etc. but using them i get error that there is no disk or something like that. but i can access somehow on diskpart and can show the disk lists the fisr time it shows me two pertitions one has raw file system and another is ntfs (which will be boot disk and changed file system when i tried to pertitioning).
    what i have to do or how can i make to recognise it by windows using only diskpart (only way i have?
    plz help me!

  8. @secret: there could be many possible reasons for the disk to become unbootable. Unfortunately, we cannot help you without being able to physically access your computer and analyze the disk. You may want to take it to your local computer repair shop for the analysis and help.

  9. thank you for a clear and well presented answer to an otherwise frustrating problem. much appreciated!

  10. You rock! Thanks so much for the information, easy to read, and extremely helpful. Your help got me out of a bad situation. Thanks again. :)

  11. Thank you SO MUCH for your excellent tutorial. It got me out of a bad situation whereas other solutions didn’t work at all. Now, I have a fully functioning SSD once again. Thank you, thank you!

  12. You are the bomb, thanks alot, nice tuts and to the point, how can i get to know you guys more?

  13. I want to delete a partition that had my previous windows version.. now i installed my newer windows version on a different partition.. i currently tried the above said diskpart command but.. in the listing my whole hard disk drive was shown in a single piece.. which ofcourse no fool would delete… is there any possible way to delete only that particular partition f my drive… by the way i tried directly to format from both explorer and disk management in my newer version of my windows but it proved futile..

  14. thanks this was dead on what was wrong for me i accidentally converted an SSD into a GPT and it wont let me install OS’s on a GPT so thanks again

  15. For view the partion just run diskpart as amindnistrator in cmd
    diskpart than type { list vol }
    than went you see the volume listed there type { select volume ? } can be a Ltr or ### after that
    went you got the volume selected next command gonna be { format} with out the {}}}

  16. Installing WIN8 brings trouble on HDD and multiboot. I have definitly removed WIN8 and with your very clear tutotial remove EFI partition. I am back to a stable situation. Never gain Win8. Many thx to you

  17. i tried every damn method to delete partition on my sd card including yours… it gets formatted too. but when i reinsert the sdcard then partitions comes back and everythng returns to normal….. whats the problem.plz tell me….its a headache for me else i have to throw my sdcard coz i cant download or install anythng on sdcard.

  18. @medgeek: Could it be that you have accidentally locked the SD card using its Lock switch? If this is not the case, then yes, it looks like the card is damaged and needs to be replaced. Good luck!

  19. Thank you. It worked perfectly – just be VERY careful you pick the correct disk to CLEAN!!

  20. I received a USB Stick which contains some bigger files from a friend by mail.
    The stick has an 200 MB EFI system partition and a big primary partition, where the files are probably located. Unfortunately I have no access to this primary partition, i.e. I can’t assign a drive-letter or anything (even in administrator mode). The right-click menu is completely disabled besides the delete volume option. As I want to access the data I can’t just delete the drive. Any idea how to access the data?
    Thanks a lot

  21. Fabian: if your friend just copied the files on to the USB stick, they should appear in a regular partition, with a drive letter. If you don’t see that, it could be that the USB device is malfunctioning. Ask your friend to send you another one. Good luck!

  22. Thank you!

    The diskpart commands allowed me to reclaim the lost space on my thumbdrive.

  23. It’s doesn’t work at after I typed “clean”.But when I redoing it (starts from “disk list” to ” clean” ) finally did. Thanks a lot.

  24. You saved my day man! i tried almost everything and this windows 8.1 really sucks. I purchased a win 7 pro pc then upgrade it to win 8 and later to 8.1 but as not all softwares run on 8.1, I tried to again go for win 8.1 but nothing concrete is availbale anywhere. I did boot from my win 7 CD but could not delete partitions so i did format them and then i lost even the running windows. That means, i could not use the disk management tool to play with disks. There, the diskpart to disk select to clean command thing worked for me and i could finally get my windows pro 7 back. Thanks a lot!

  25. hi, i had borrowed to a friend my 16GB USB 2.0 flash disk. it had some movies in it. When he came back with the disk after 2 weeks, i was shocked that i could not format it,it always said and still saying The Disk is write protected, so i don’t see any option, i tried inserting the write protect files in registry changing either ways but could not work

  26. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I like to think that I’m pretty good with computers but uninstalling Win 8 and putting in Win 7 took me for a ride. This helped tons.

  27. Thank you very much.. I am very much pleased by this article.. It really helped me a lot.. Thank you once again.

  28. 750 gigs regained. I lost a huge amount of information because I scanned and did not read slowly this tutorial.
    I’m crying on the inside right now. New people I URGE you to get a coffee take your time and follow this great tutorial .

  29. So, is there no way to delete just a SINGLE PARTITION on the drive ?
    Must I bomb the WHOLE DRIVE ?
    Surely there must be a way to FORCE DELETE a single partition, and not everything ?
    Thanks, but this doesn’t work or me.

  30. Yes, there is a way to delete just a single partition. Using “Disk Management” tool, you can view all volumes. It lists each disk individually and also breaks them down by partition. To delete a single partition first verify the physical disk that the partition is on, then right click said partition. As long as it is not “Boot”, “Crash Dump”, or “Page File” partition you should have the option to delete the volume.

  31. Thanks for this! The other tutorials only talked about the “delete partition override” method, which wasn’t working for me. This worked perfectly with one command. :)

  32. Excellent! Spent an hour reading all the usual sources and none provided the info as clearly as this. This worked without any hassle our issues. Well done sir!

  33. Well, it was actually a little to wordy but the information is accurate so it works perfectly! Thank you.

  34. thanks! Worked very well. I got an error after doing the clean command but i just tried it again and it worked. thanks!!

  35. Worked Perfectly. I skipped the CTRL + Shift combo (Great Little Shortcut As Well), so I had access error, which makes sense.

    This worked perfectly on Windows 8 as well.

    Great write up!

  36. Hi, none of the recommendations above actually works for wiping my SSD drive. It was working under MAC OSX with Firevault 2 but due to some strange reason it does not accept my passcode anymore (or I may have it wrong and do not remember the correct one) so I just want to delete all partitions. I also already tried eraseUS partition manager but nothing seems to be able to delete these partitions. Sometimes I get the message that it is done but then thes epratitions just re-appear.

    Aby thoughts?

  37. Great tutorial – huge thanks to you! You saved me from a lot of computer-trouble! :D

  38. Thank you just solved my problem. I had forgotten the Clean Command. Thanks alot

  39. thanks a lot. hav’nt used cmd for many years, after reading your tutorial brought it all back. BRILL ;~)

  40. AWESOME information.
    This got me through opening/formatting a protected partition great and every step was spot on – even on this POS VISTA unit we use as a spare PC.
    Thanks for the great write up

  41. cant clean disk. information is: the request couldnt be performed because of an I/O device error

  42. Well, this response was helpful to the person who has his windows os n the efi to be deleted on different disks.
    i was tryin for a dual boot of windows 8.1 and fedora, but my laptop boots directly to win without even the grub loading up.
    i noticed 2 efi partitions created, on the same disk, which has my windows os.
    how can i delete these efi partitions which are on the same disk as the windows os???

  43. This was great, but you have several disks here. What happens when you have only one disk (disk 0). You cant clear it since it has the O.S system running on it. So explain what is that healthy EFI partition doing in front (to the left) of the primary partition? I am sure if you right clicked that 200mb healthy partition, you have no options to extend, create etc…just help option. So my question is why is it there? It was nice to have the flexibility of cleaning it up, but with one drive, that option is not acceptable

  44. Thanks for being so clear and direct, not everyone who knows something can teach it to others, even if the wanted.

  45. *click* save website to favourites.
    11/10 – Will submit to your superior knowledge and extremely organised way of conveying information again.

  46. Hey, I had the problem that i couldn’t delete the 10gb partition that i made to boot kali linux on from the disk management. So I tried the DISKPART but the 10gb partition doesn’t show when i type list disk it only shows my main disk being 600gb . Please be my hero ! Thanks in advance!

  47. This is just what I needed! I want to thank the author and host for taking your time to help people like me in need. Amazing tutorial and website! Thanks so much!

  48. Thanks for a very clear tutorial. I had an old HDD full of files and partitions, and now it’s all clear and doing something useful as a backup disk.

  49. Thanks! I got worried because my Kingston 16GB SD card was being recognized as a 64MB drive and I couldn’t do anything with Disk Management. This was a nice refresher of how to use disk utility.

  50. OMG! your instructions saved my life! believe in me! you saved a life. Now my external hard drive is accessible.
    Thank you so very much.

  51. hiya, I like the way you explain things, you assume the person reading has very little knowledge and then explain very carefully the what’s and whys of things, This technique worked perfectly and saved my 8Gig Sd card, which also just happened to be disk 4 lol. thanks for your help. Tony

  52. By mistake I formatted a partition as EFI.
    Used MiniTool Partition Wizard.
    Install, mark the EFI partition/Delete/Apply and done!
    Best of all it’s free.

  53. Thank you for this, took me hours tearing out what little hair I have left getting nowhere. Sorted!

  54. Awesome! This is a solution I’ve been after for a while. Worked a treat – and makes me think I really should learn a bit more dos..

  55. Omg, Thank you so much, been using Microsofts operatingsystems and DOS itself for many years.. and ofcourse i had problems removing a partition from a SD-card – never used Diskpart before! Didnt even know it existed, so easy and so logic to use..

    Big thanks!

  56. You have saved my bacon. Brilliant, informative and helped me out. Look forward to using other tutorials you have.

  57. Hi
    Spotmau Bootsuite is a very good utility where you don’t have to take the hard drive out. Thought this might be helpful.

  58. This was EXACTLY what I needed! Unfortunately it sees the USB drive has failed. But thank you for this detailed and easy to follow write up. Well done

  59. I cant delete it. It say “Virtual Disc Service Error: Clean is not allowed on disk containing the current boot, system, pagefile, crashdump, or hibernation volume.” When I install windows I chose other HDD and name partition on it with “C”. I was formated this disk, but it looks like I not do it wright. I can’t reinstall Win again, is there chance to delete this disk part somehow? And is there any way to change disk number? Because this disk is “Disk 0” and disk with C partition is “Disk 2”

  60. Alex: even if you choose to install Windows on another disk, it will still store some system information on disk 0, that’s why it does not let you delete it. The only way to solve such a problem is to physically disconnect disk 0 while installing Windows on another disk, then reconnect it again, after the install is finished. Good luck!

  61. THANK YOU! It’s been a long time since I used DOS, and was trying to use FDISK – which evidently is a command no longer used.

  62. Excellent, just the advice I needed. Much better than the Windows site. Will definitely use your site for future advice. Thanks.

  63. Just migrated my Windows 10 Home OS to a newly installed SSD and kept the old SATA boot drive for additional storage. For the life of me I could not figure out how to get rid of the old partitions until I found this article, which ended up working perfectly. Excellent help article. Thank you.

  64. What a wonderful guide to help us novices out of a jam. Well written, well explained and a relative doddle to complete. I wish I’d this 2 days ago – I would have been saved a great deal of gnashing teeth, unmentionable cursing and all round frustration. Thank you for your input, time and expertise in providing this – much appreciated. :-)

  65. I just have to say thank you. I knew this but couldn’t rememeber until I read your instructions. Thank you for concise and specific infomation – THAT WORKED – yeah. Really thanks

  66. Thanks for this solution, I have data on that drive I want to save,
    can I just make this EFI partition accessible and convert it back to NTFS the way it was before? I don’t know why it changed to EFI as of two days ago, maybe windows 10 update?

    Thanks again

  67. No Need to delete the entire disk.

    just select disk #
    Select volume # or partition #
    find the EFI volume by size.
    and use delete partition override


  68. Like some above I also had an old HD that I wanted to turn into a backup drive after I transitioned to a SSD. I used Disk Management to delete all of the partitions on it but the recovery partition wouldn’t budge. Tried every Diskpart command I could find (delete partition override (which did nothing)), delete volume (which kept failing and dumping me to a new CMD window). Clean was the only one to work for me. THANK YOU! I know it’s silly to worry about having a 786MB partition I can’t use on an otherwise empty 1TB drive but it would have nagged at me anytime I looked at disk management…

  69. I tried to delete the WINMAGIC boot partition using diskpart but i get I/O error.

    I was trying to clear it on Samsung SSD Drive.

  70. Thank you! Worked for SDcard as well.
    Even though error warning: (Diskpart .. > clean> “Access denied ..” some part
    Then format fat32 all good to go . Now tested 1Gb of 30Gb DVR..

  71. Still extremely helpful in 2018. Thanks for this info. It worked like a charm.

  72. bonjour
    merci pour vos conseils, mais c’et un volume EFI que je voudrais récupérer, disk part ne veut pas le nottoyer
    avez vous une solution

    merci par avance

  73. Thanks a lot for this. Solved a weird partition issue ending several hours of frustration and wasted time.

  74. Thanks a lot. Worked like a charm. Every other tutorial I found is for people with IQ’s under 50: “Are you sure your computer is turned on?” :P

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