Formatting an exterior hard drive

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Formatting an exterior hard drive

My PC insists that the exterior USB hard drive is my main (Primary) drive and refuses to allow me to format (NTFS) it.

I've been to right-click My Computer>Manage>Storage>Disk Management>Format and a dialog box tells me, no boy, not possible, the (exterior) hard drive is the primary drive and is being used by the system. (OS is XP Home SP3.)

The exterior drive contains backups from a former system. I now need to backup my newly installed system.

Can anyone help please?