formating hard drive?

  denis93c 23:07 10 Nov 2003

please explain in plain english what formating the hard drive is+what is the benifits.
also how do i do it?
also same question about floppys and cd`s.

  Diodorus Siculus 23:11 10 Nov 2003

Formatting: removing _all_ data and leaving you with a clean disk. No operating system, no programs, nothing....

Benefit: if you want a pc with an operating system like new, you format AND reinstall everything.

Disadvantage: you have to put everything on again.

  VoG II 23:12 10 Nov 2003

Formatting is a strange word in my opinion. It basically means deleting everything off a disk.

If you format your hard drive everything will go including Windows.

If you format a floppy it just means it will wipe the floppy disk. Same for a CD.

  Diodorus Siculus 23:15 10 Nov 2003

By the way, how to do it: depends on your final destination.

If you want to format your hard disk drive, then boot with a bootable floppy / Windows CD etc and at the C:\ prompt, type

format c:


If you want to reinstall windows from scratch, have a look at this link: click here

  DieSse 23:21 10 Nov 2003

Formatting is simply preparing it to accept data.

It's absolutely necessary, as unformatted disks of any kind will simply not work.

A hard disk is divided up into small chunks for storage when it is manufactured. Formatting gives each chunk an address, so that the operating system knows which one is which, and puts on a set of tables which identify where is empty of data, and eventually where all the files are located.

Floppy disks are these days ready formatted. A blank floppy disk has nothing on it at all - formatting these involves the bacis dividing into chunks in addition to the rest.

CDs are slightly different - but CR-RWs have to be formatted in a similar fashion. CD-Rs can be "formatted" as the data is written to them, however, as the data structure is designed for "once-off" use.

The above is VERY simplified - but you will be able to read up more on the web if you are interested.

  DieSse 23:25 10 Nov 2003

Misunderstandings above - Formatting is not clearing data off a disk - that's just an effect of the way formatting is done under Windows.

  DieSse 23:30 10 Nov 2003

formatting is done under Windows.

Should more correctly say effect of the way formatting is done for most operating systems.

Theoretically it's possible to format a disk and retain all the data on it - it's just not done like this. The format information is not actually part of the data and is written seperately from it.

  Diodorus Siculus 23:32 10 Nov 2003

DieSse - thanks for that! It is indeed a side effect of formatting that one loses all the data on the disk. As an aside, is there a way of formatting that does not have such an effect?

Can one format a disk which has data and not lose the data? Can there be data on a disk that is not formatted?

And can you go into details on such things as different file systems which are all relevant to the issue of formatting (preferably in "plain english") please?

  woodchip 23:39 10 Nov 2003

It less words the format command creates the filing system. In the MBR

  DieSse 23:42 10 Nov 2003

I think what you mean however, is really about a clean re-install of Windows - in this case formatting is a quick way of deleting everything that's on the hard drive - so that you can install again fresh and uncluttered from the old stuff.

Why this is a "good idea" is because Windows and many Windows programs, are actually very bad at removing all traces of themselves when they are uninstalled. A freash install get's rid of all the left-overs, and speeds operations up because of it.

  woodchip 23:47 10 Nov 2003

And then after what DieSse say's, many computer users create a Image File With such as Drive Image and reinstall that occasionally to remove the refuse and put all back in order in about 10 mins

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