Is there a General Tool for low level formatting of Hard Drives?

Discussion in 'backup, imaging & disk mgmt' started by HandsOff, Oct 1, 2005.

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  1. HandsOff

    HandsOff Registered Member

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    People talk about reformatting as though it erases everything on the drive. It doesn't. You have to do a "low level format" to accomplish that. The only way I know how to do that is with tools provided by the hard drive maker. These tools are not always that easy for me to use, and I have not figured out how to LLF an external drive. Is there a program out there that can do this?

    - HandsOff
     
  2. beetlejuice69

    beetlejuice69 Registered Member

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    You can get a floppy disk version of the tools for a zero fill format not low level anymore. Low level formats will void your HD warranty. You just have to go to the HD manufacturers page to get the disk.
     
  3. StevieO

    StevieO Guest

    Hi Hands,

    If you fdisk and delete your partitions etc before you reformat, that should help i've found.


    StevieO
     
  4. StevieO

    StevieO Guest

    ps Hands,

    Don't forget to make new partitions etc and activate etc again after deleting, before the reformat !


    StevieO
     
  5. Notok

    Notok Registered Member

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    Maybe something like THIS is what you're looking for?
     
  6. Cyber Surfer

    Cyber Surfer Registered Member

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  7. Beef

    Beef Guest

  8. HandsOff

    HandsOff Registered Member

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    I got a lot more responses than I expected! I was afraid this question would not receive any attention.

    I see that some of the responses attack the problem as a secure deletion issue (no information to be recoverable). While that is one aspect of my issue, it is not, at the moment, my focus.

    I have to scenarios in mind:

    1- I had a Maxtor drive that had some performance issues. when I would do a page file defrag it would always take forever, ect...I finally ran the manufacturors diagnostic. Result: The drive did not pass, and I was assigned a rma number.
    Enter: My pecular brand of lazyness. Rather than go to that trouble I wanted to try various ways of reformatting, ect...two diagnostics later, the drive passed. (I know some of you are thinking, passed, but for how long). That was over a year ago and the disk still runs perfectly. Not bad for a failed drive! But why? was it file system corruption, was it a virus? Whatever it was, it left me with a contempt for normal formatting which did absolutely nothing, as far as the problem was concerned.
    Problem: Those maxtor tools seem very tempermental. Maxtor does have ones that are supposed to work run from windows on a different partion - I have yet to even see these versions successfully load, much less work.

    2-I have a couple of orphaned notebook hard drives. one I was able to reformat with partition magic. The other one appears to be locked. I never figured out how to unlock it. I don't even own a notebook computer, but the drives were given to me from a broken mp3 player, and broken notebook. The only connection I have for them is USB.

    I'm about to read on what a low level format is. I do know a little about it, but maybe not enough!


    - HandsOff
     
  9. HandsOff

    HandsOff Registered Member

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    I was misusing the term low level format. It is in fact, zero fill that I meant.

    I think I'm starting to get the picture. You pretty much do have to use the manufacturers utilities.

    and you pretty much do have to do it by booting to something other than a hard drive (if you are concerned about a boot virus)

    I'm not that familiar with FDisk. I have always used windows, partition magic, and maxtor utilities. Could you boot to a CD and run FDisk? would you have to have some version of DOS on the CD, or does the BIOS handle FDisk? It may just be simpler, after all, to use the tools from the manufacturer. Honestly, the only difficulty for me is the part where you boot from a floppy.
    ---------------------------------------------------

    I don't know if this is worth mentioning, but I hate booting to floppies, and most of the time it is possible to boot to the cd drive instead.


    -HandsOff
     
  10. Beef

    Beef Guest

    instructions :


    http://fdisk.radified.com/




    http://www.pcstats.com/articleview.cfm?articleID=1778




    FDISK works from your start-up disk.........would advise you to print any instructions.....cause once the formated disk is gone...its really gone! You can FDISK and re-create a new partition in under 30 minutes.....much less after you do it a couple of times......but COPY THE INSTRUCTIONS
    An if for some reason you mess this up get to a working computer an I'll walk you through this (if I am still hanging around) Good Luck!
    oh, its not that unusual for a harddrive to "show" as bad but continue working for several years......
     
  11. beetlejuice69

    beetlejuice69 Registered Member

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    All you have to do is grab MAXBlaster from Maxtors site. Have a blank floppy disk and put it in the drive. Dbl click the MB that you downloaded and point it to your floppy drive. Once that is done just reboot and the floppy will start you into process of whatever you want to do...zero fill, set new partions, reinstall your harddrive. The instuctions are pretty easy to understand. If you do do a zero fill you`re have to use it to reinstall your HD anyway.
     
  12. HandsOff

    HandsOff Registered Member

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    Well, I have done that...sort of...and more than once. The problem I I have is that no matter what software I have tried, floppies that I make are seldom bootable. There is something with XP that just does not seem to facilitate making boot disks. (even when I am not using windows to do the formatting). I know there are tools that can do it, but I have an extreme prejudice against any use of floppies. This is a direct consequence of having had to use them extensively and having literally hundreds of them fail on me...often brand new ones.

    That said maxtor let's you create a boot CD. I agree the instructions are simple. Its getting the software to run that proves hard. The CD maxtor makes, If I recall does not have the diagnostic tools on it. only the tools to create and format partitions. So I get a floppy that won't boot, and a bootable CD with no diagnostic (including zero filling). Still, one can succeed. All you need to do is to boot to the CD, then insert your floppy and run the diagnostic, then change back to the CD and finish. What a hassle! did it ever occur to maxtor to include the tiny little diagnostic program on the CD?

    But it really is a basic necessity to zero fill at least the start and end of a disk drive. Because that is what allow you to transfer all of the contents of one hard drive to another. That is really the whole objective the times I have done it. And you may have seen this coming...I am starting to think it is the only practical way to do a system backup any more. I have restored XP backups many times --- that is no problem. What is a problem is when you believe you have to do a reformat. and o/s reinstall. I just no longer have a quick way to do it. There is so much stuff that has to be disabled in xp now, that its not always easy. restorals of backups are funny, in that they are only additive. They do not remove. Anyways...the disk to disk transfer is reasonably fast. and the reformat is thorough. I guess, it's as easy as it is going to get. BTW, i have not stepped up to SATA drives yet. I think I'm going to love those!


    - HandsOff
     
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