How to format a hard drive: all the ways

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How to format a hard drive: all the ways
How to format a hard drive: all the ways

Questions related to how to format a hard drive are of concern to almost all users, since this process is one of the fundamental ones in working with both hard drives and removable storage media. In some situations, the use of only this toolkit allows you to get rid of seemingly absolutely unrecoverable problems. There are several formatting methods. Further, all of them will be considered. But in order to fully understand the essence of the issue, we must first dwell on some theoretical aspects.

What is formatting?

And perhaps it's worth starting with an explanation of the process itself. Without going into technical details, we can say that formatting is a universal means of organizing the disk structure for further saving the necessary information on it, which is subject to strict rules for organizing file It goes without saying that files are written to the disk not randomly in some random order, but in a strictly defined way, although they can be located in different areas of the disk. All information is presented in the form of files. Folders are also files, but only of a certain type, and the structure of the data location on the hard drive is significantly different from what the user sees in the same "Explorer" or in any other file manager.

Why should I format drives?

In general, these processes are used quite often. There are quite a lot of examples of the most common situations when it may be necessary to format a hard drive or an external drive in the form of a USB-HDD, ordinary flash drives or memory cards. Most often, this is necessary when installing operating systems, sometimes formatting can be the only way to get rid of all kinds of viruses. It is not uncommon for situations related to disk errors or file system corruption, etc.

At one time, there was a very popular joke about a call to Microsoft support when a user complains that Word does not work for him. The specialist asks, they say, where the user has Word. He replies that on the "C" drive. The advice kills on the spot: “Write! Format c:". The user doubts, but will it help? In response, he receives a remark that this is the most effective means. Of course, this is a joke, but, as they say, there is some truth in this.

Misconceptions about formatting processes

And that is why many users,especially beginners who do not have a clear idea about the functioning of this tool, relate to formatting with almost awe, considering it as a last resort to eliminate some problems. Frightening, basically, is only the destruction of important information, which, in their opinion, will be impossible to recover. This is not the case, and data recovery is possible, and quite simply. It all depends on which particular formatting method was used in each particular case (you can extract information using modern software systems even from damaged and completely inoperable hard drives).

Formatting types

Finally, one more small lyrical digression. Among the main types of formatting, there are low-level and high-level formatting. The first is produced at the factory and is associated with the formation of tracks and sectors in the disk structure, which will subsequently be recorded. The second type is responsible for the formation of the logical structures of partitions, the file system (file tables), boot sectors, etc.

High-level formatting is divided into quick and complete. In the first case, only file tables are overwritten. In the second - first, the surface of the disk, sector is checked. Those that are physically damaged are marked as faulty to prevent writing data to them. Only then is the file table formed.

How to format the hard drive when installing the operating system?

Now consider the main methods that allow you to produceformatting and hard drives, and removable drives of any type. And first, let's look at the process of installing the operating system. Probably, every user noticed that at the stage of choosing a partition into which it will be installed, the installer asks to format the hard drive or the selected partition. It is clear that this is only necessary for the system to install correctly, and upon completion of the installation process, it will work without failures and errors.

Format partition during system installation
Format partition during system installation

How to format a hard drive? There are two options for doing this. In the first case, you just need to select the desired section and click the appropriate button in the installer window. In the second case, you can delete all partitions by combining them into one unallocated area, create a system partition for installing the operating system and the required number of logical drives, and then format each of them. If only one partition is supposed to be left without partitioning the disk, it will be completely formatted.

Standard formatter

Now a few words about how to format a hard drive in Windows 7 using standard system tools. In general, we take the seventh modification solely as an example, since in all versions of Windows these processes are completely identical.

Standard formatter in Windows
Standard formatter in Windows

To do this, in the most common "Explorer" you need to RMB on a selected disk or partition, select the item from the context menuformatting, and then set the preferred method (full or quick format). As a rule, the set parameters can be left unchanged, except to set a new volume label (partition name), which does not affect subsequent processes.

How to format an external hard drive or a regular flash drive? Yes, exactly the same. But in the first case, the system automatically determines the preferred type of file system, and in the second (especially for new equipment), you may need to install it yourself. The fact is that if the external HDD has a capacity of 2 TB or more, it is not recommended to install the FAT32 file system, since it can only work with disks of the specified size limit. If, nevertheless, formatting is done in FAT32, the rest of the volume will simply be lost, and it will be impossible to use it. Also, this type of file system may be needed when creating installation flash drives, when the primary input / output system on a computer or laptop is not BIOS, but UEFI (this system does not recognize FAT32 on bootable media).

Disk Management

Now let's see how to format a hard drive in Windows using a special management utility. The easiest way to call it is through the Run console with the command diskmgmmt.msc.

Disk Management
Disk Management

Here, the whole procedure boils down to selecting the formatting item in the context menu via RMB for the disk or partition and setting the required parameters. The settings window is completely similar to the standard tool,which was described above.

How to format a hard drive in Windows using the command line?

The command line is considered (and not without reason) to be the most powerful tool, and not only for formatting, but also for many other actions that may not be available in the standard settings of the operating system.

How to completely format a hard drive using this console? As noted in the anecdote above, the format command is used, for which the drive letter with a colon is indicated separated by a space. However, special attributes can be added to the main command. So, for example, setting the attribute "/q" (without quotes) corresponds to a quick format, "fs:ntfs" formats with the appropriate file system, etc.

Formatting attributes via command line
Formatting attributes via command line

Attributes can be shared, and a complete list of them can be viewed by running the format /? (the screen will display a complete list of additional attributes with a description of each of them).

Can I format drives using BIOS?

Now about another misconception among users. Regarding how to format a hard drive through BIOS, there is only one answer: NO! There are no such tools in primary I/O systems. However, you can do otherwise by writing the desired utility to removable media from which you can boot (both a DOS boot disk, a regular installation distribution, and utilities likeLiveCD). You just need to set the BIOS device first in boot priority, and then use the formatting tool written to it or the same command line.

Is it possible to format the system partition in a running OS?

Of course, many users have questions about this. However, the C drive on which the operating system is installed cannot be formatted using Windows tools or any other programs that run in its environment.

Attempt to format the system partition
Attempt to format the system partition

Actually, the OS itself will not allow this (well, it will not give permission for its own deletion?). Again, the only option is to use the appropriate tools when starting from external media.

Narrowly targeted formatters

How to format a hard drive on a laptop or a stationary computer terminal, figured it out. Let's see what programs specially created for this offer us.

HDD Low Level Format Tool
HDD Low Level Format Tool

One of the most powerful is the HDD Low Level Format Tool, which can be used for both fixed hard drives and removable drives from any manufacturer. The undoubted advantage of the application is support for Ultra-DMA mode and formatting speed at 180 GB / h. There are a lot of such programs. You can use any utility to partition the disk into partitions.

Can I recover data after formatting?

Howformatting a hard drive with a few simple methods, I think it's a little clear. Finally, a few words about the issue of restoring information after formatting that concerns all users. It is believed that such actions can be performed only in the case of a quick high-level format. After full or low-level recovery will be impossible.

R. Saver software
R. Saver software

One can disagree with this, since specialized utilities like R. Saver are capable of doing this as well. But today you can find a lot of applications for recovering deleted information, including after formatting. Not all of them are equivalent in terms of functionality, however, certain data recovery actions perform quite well.

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