Windows 7 computer. Boot to usb or CD so I can format the disk drive.

I have an HP z440 computer running Windows 7 pro.  

HP sent me a usb drive containing restore media.  They were unsure if it would work.  I removed the original drive from the z440 and inserted a newer SATA drive into the z440 .  Then, if the usb restore media did not work, I could always insert the older hard drive and boot and the z440 would operate.

The usb restore media worked well.  So the z440 has one hard drive in it containing a functional Windows 7 installation.  I want to use the older drive.  So I inserted the older drive.  I thought the z440 would boot from the newer drive and I could then format the older drive.  

The z440 insisted on booting from the older drive.  I tried changing the boot order in the bios to convince the z440 to boot from the newer drive.  The bios screen froze.

My question:  How can I create a simple bootable usb or cd disk so I can format a drive?  If I can do this, then I would boot  the  cd or usb drive and format  the older hard drive.  I just want to format the older drive, I do not want to install any operating system on it.
Who is Participating?

[Product update] Infrastructure Analysis Tool is now available with Business Accounts.Learn More

I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

RaminTechnical AdvisorCommented:
Use this third party freeware software Rufus to create bootable USB drive

you can also boot from Windows 7 DVD and select Repair your Computer.
>>>>  They were unsure if it would work.  I removed the original drive from the z440 and inserted a newer SATA drive into the z440 .  Then, if the usb restore media did not work, I could always insert the older hard drive and boot and the z440 would operate.     <<< why were they unsure ?  please post more info

boot from any install media - on cd or usb - then during setup - you can choose to delete all partitions - this lets you format the drive when booted from the normal drive - using disk manager

you can also use a live cd, or UBCD :
Hardware diagnostic CD    UBCD
go to the download page, scroll down to the mirror section, and  click on a mirror to start the download
Download the UBCD and make the cd   <<==on a WORKING PC, and boot the problem PC from it
Here 2 links, one to the general site, and a direct link to the download

since the downloaded file is an ISO file, eg ubcd527.iso - so you need to use an ISO burning tool
if you don't have that software, install cdburnerXP :

If you want also the Ram tested - run memtest86+ at least 1 full pass,  - you should have NO errors!
direct download :
For disk Diagnostics run the disk diag for your disk brand (eg seagate diag for seagate drive)  from the HDD section -  long or advanced diag !  (runs at least for30 minutes)      

**  you can make a bootable cd - or bootable usb stick
*** note *** for SSD drives  use the tool from the manufacturer, like intel 's toolbox :

for completeness -here's how i handle disk problems :

==>>****in order to be able to  boot from CD or usb - you may have to disable secure boot in the bios
Shaun VermaakTechnical SpecialistCommented:
No need for any tools. Boot from Windows disk.
At setup screen press Shift + F10 to get a command prompt

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
IT Pros Agree: AI and Machine Learning Key

We’d all like to think our company’s data is well protected, but when you ask IT professionals they admit the data probably is not as safe as it could be.

donpickAuthor Commented:
Hello Ramin:
  Thank you for the link, this will be useful in the future.

Hello Nobus:
  Thank you for your help in the past.  When ordering items from HP, you never know the caliber of engineer helping you.  This person who told me this may have just been an order taker.  Thank you for sharing the universal boot disk; I had forgotten about  this

Mr Vermaak:  
  Thank you for the information.  This is why I subscribe to Experts-Exchange:  to learn about features not obviously apparent.  I did insert the Windows usb restore drive, it booted, a screen appeared asking me which language I wanted to use, I pressed Shift+F10 and a DOS prompt appeared!!  Great!  

So, what is the final status?
   I turned off the z440, inserted the older SATA drive, disconnected the newer SATA drive,  and inserted the z440 official usb Windows restore flash drive.  I turned on the z440, pressed F9 to select the drive to boot from and this time it allowed me to choose the usb flash drive.  A screen appeared asking me which language to use.  As Mr Vermaak instructed, I pressed Shift+F10 and a DOS prompt appeared.  My plan was to format the older SATA drive (the only SATA drive in the z440) I typed c: at the DOS prompt and the C:> appeared so I knew the computer could recognize the C drive.  I typed in:
   format C:/FS:NTFS and pressed Enter.  
  A prompt appeared asking for the volume name of the SATA drive.  I know the volume name is Windows .  I typed this in and a message appeared telling me this volume did not exist.  

OK, well at least I was booted something other than a SATA drive.  I removed the usb rescue flash drive and inserted the rescue disk from my backup program (it's called Macrium).  Macrium promptly restored the C drive image.  

I shut down the z440 and restarted it expecting the computer to boot from the restored C drive.  It refused to boot.  I inserted the newer SATA drive (remember, I never altered this drive) and the z440 booted.  

I invoked the disk manager.  It showed the older SATA drive to be offilne.  I have never experienced an offline drive.  I don't know why it was offline.  I right clicked on the offline, a vertical menu appeared and one of the choices was onlilne.  I clicked online and suddenly the old SATA drive came alive.   Strange occurrences like this drive me nuts.  

So now I had a working C drive (the newer SATA ) so I used the disk manager program to format the older SATA.  It successfully formatted.

1.) What would cause a drive to be offline?

2.) The dos prompt wanted a volume name before it would allow formatting.  How do I convince the computer to format the C drive when the volume name is unknown?
1 - i never had this happenn
2- just give it any name you want, i usually name it after the brand + size, eg seagate 500 for a seagate 500 GB drive
RaminTechnical AdvisorCommented:
How do I convince the computer to format the C drive when the volume name is unknown?
You could type: VOL C:  to get the volume lable of C: drive.

What would cause a drive to be offline?
Probably disconnecting the drive when the PC is on.
donpickAuthor Commented:
Thank you all for your help.
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Windows 7

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.