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Low Level vs High Level Format


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4 replies to this topic

#1 Stang777

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:35 PM

I have read on here that in the case of reformatting to get rid of viruses that one should do a low level format and I do not understand what that is. I have read the article from Microsoft that some have linked to that is suppose to explain the difference, but it does not explain it to me.

Is formatting using the XP disk considered low level?

Also, how does one go about using third party formatting tools like killdisk or the format tools from the hard drive mfg? As in, do they have to be burned as an ISO to a cd or can the just be copied onto a cd?

I am assuming they have to be put on a cd as I cannot see how they could run off the hard drive, is that correct?

Edited by Stang777, 22 July 2009 - 07:36 PM.


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#2 garmanma

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:50 PM

Also, how does one go about using third party formatting tools like killdisk or the format tools from the hard drive mfg? As in, do they have to be burned as an ISO to a cd or can the just be copied onto a cd?


As an ISO. The instructions for Killdisk are very easy to follow
Using Killdisk will remove partitions and overwrite the entire drive with zeros
That is a low level reformat
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#3 hamluis

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 07:53 PM

What we call "low-level formats" are generally performed by various hard drive utilities, including diagnostics provided by hard drive manufacturers.

Interesting reading at http://www.pcguide.com/ref/hdd/geom/formatUtilities-c.html

Enlightening article, good question :thumbsup:.

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#4 Romeo29

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 08:11 PM

In short,

Low level format recreates sectors and tracks on a hard disk. You can increase/decrease number of sectors/tracks etc using this.

High level format just creates a file-system like FAT32, NTFS or ext3 on a hard disk drive.

Is formatting using the XP disk considered low level?

No, its high level formatting.

Low level formatting is not advised in today's hard disks.
In modern drives, the first and last time low level format is done, it is done by the manufacturer at factory.

#5 Stang777

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Posted 22 July 2009 - 10:25 PM

Thank you everyone, I appreciate the info.

I guess Killdisk is the way to go so I downloaded it just in case I ever need it. I even found out my CD Burner shows it will even burn ISO images and I didn't think it would, so that made me happy. Now I just have to decide if the CD version or floppy version of Killdisk is the best one to use. Maybe I will just make both, lol

Thanks again for all the info about this, I have been confused about the formatting info for a long time, now I am not :thumbsup:

Edited by Stang777, 22 July 2009 - 10:27 PM.





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