Hard Drive Question

  eysha 15:58 08 Oct 2008

This question will probbly sound silly to the members here who know about computers but i don't so here goes.
When a hard disk is formatted what exactly happens to it?
is any information put on it and if so what?
should XP be on FAT32 or NTL when formatting?
If a hard drive isn't formatted will it still allow a OS to be put on to a cmputer?
if it was formatted in NTL by mistake and needs to be FAT32 for XP, for example, will it still work to install and OS?

  johndrew 16:08 08 Oct 2008

`When a hard disk is formatted what exactly happens to it? `

click here

XP should be on NTFS. This is the file system that will be created by default when you install the OS.

If you fit a new drive and install XP to it, the drive will be prepared as part of the installation process.

  Pineman100 16:08 08 Oct 2008

A hard drive has to be formatted before it can hold any information at all.

Formatting essentially divides the drive up into little sections - each section having a location code. So when information is written to the drive, the list of the sections in which that information is stored is then held in a table called the File Allocation Table (hence FAT). So the computer knows where to find the information next time.

For XP you're best to format NTFS. Just remember though that NTFS can't be read by earlier versions of Windows.

This might interest you if you want to know more: click here

  Pineman100 16:09 08 Oct 2008

Sorry if I've repeated some of johndrew's information - I was typing while he was posting!

  eysha 16:22 08 Oct 2008

thanks that was interesting. i read it all so i have a better idea now.
I take it that if a HD isn't formatted then it cannot put an OS on to the computer.

  johndrew 16:34 08 Oct 2008

The hard drive is where the OS written and will not contain data unless it is formatted. When you install XP it does all the necessary work to prepare the drive.

Any hard drive needs to be formatted to enable it to contain data. But if you think it through, you can`t easily format a drive (except by using a self booting floppy or CD) except by installing the OS.

When the drive is written with the OS and you boot from it, the data is read and acted upon by the PC. Some of the data is retained in memory and read many times during PC use. Other information tells the PC what to do at specific points during the boot process and running of the PC. I am trying to be as simplistic as possible as to understand the full function of the OS would take a lot of work.

  eysha 16:39 08 Oct 2008

thanks Johndrew, i understand what your saying, i think.
I was unable to format the HD becasue i cannot get the computer to work so what i did was to put the HD into an external caddy and usb it to a working computer then i formatted it using that working computer - was this wrong?
It seemed logical to me as i couldn't format it any other way so i thought of that way.

  Pineman100 17:27 08 Oct 2008

We've talked a lot about formatting the drive, but we don't seem to have got to exactly what you're trying to achieve.

Are you intending to reinstall Windows on a computer where it has failed?

If so, have a you got a Windows CD to install from? What version of Windows?

Please tell us what your ultimate intention is.

  eysha 20:09 08 Oct 2008

yes i want to reinstall win xp on a computer that failed and that i have tried for days and days to get back up and running. yes i have the cd too.
I bought the computer second hand and it is a logn story but it wasn't what it was supposed to be so i won't go into it.

  johndrew 09:59 09 Oct 2008

Now your question makes more sense.

You will need your XP CD and your licence number which is on the PC or the XP packaging; it is something like CXFCH-23JY3-?????-?????-?????.

To install XP make certain the PC is complete - hard drive installed - and all other components you may have disconnected are correctly connected.

Start the PC and either go to the BIOS and make certain the first boot option is your CD drive or press <F8> key as the PC is booting to get the boot option screen. At the boot option screen select your CD drive as the boot preference.

Insert the XP CD in the drive and allow it to boot. Follow the instructions given in Method 2 here click here

You can print the instructions out (cut & paste) if that helps.

Let us know if you need more help.

  Pineman100 15:09 09 Oct 2008

You will, of course, need to have a functioning hard drive installed in the computer, with the jumper set to Master, before you start johndrew's routine.

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