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Formatting old hard drive turned external

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June 18, 2013 1:47:49 PM

I had an old hard drive sitting around, so I made an external HD out of it but when I try to reformat it it says,"Windows cannot format this drive. Quit any utilities or other programs using this drive and make sure that no window is displaying the contents of the drive. then try again." Any suggestions?
a b G Storage
June 18, 2013 5:21:53 PM

One of these programs might help. Delete the partitions on the HHD and then create a new logical drive in and give it a letter and format it. Have you tried to delete the partitions in Windows Disk Management?
June 18, 2013 5:38:10 PM

spooky2th said:
One of these programs might help. Delete the partitions on the HHD and then create a new logical drive in and give it a letter and format it. Have you tried to delete the partitions in Windows Disk Management?


It is not partitioned at all, just one chunk.
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a c 327 G Storage
June 18, 2013 8:37:55 PM

Oh, it IS Partitioned - into ONE Partition. You MUST establish a Partition on any HDD and then Format it to use as a "drive" with a letter name. Your option whether it's one Partition or more.

So, Deleting all existing Partitions, then Creating and Formatting a new one (the combination is called Initializing the drive), will get rid of all old data.
a b G Storage
June 18, 2013 8:51:53 PM

You wanted to format it, I thought. If not just assign it a letter.
June 23, 2013 11:04:03 AM

Thank you. It seems to be doing the trick. You guys are the best!

Update:
Sooo, I used EASEUS and it deleted the data and seemed to be formatting the drive just fine. After it finished it gave an error message that disappeared when I clicked my mouse. I closed EASEUS and looked at the drive in Windows and it showed unformatted. Tried formatting in Windows and it seemed to be working but when it finished, it too gave an error "Unable to format." Opened up EASEUS again and it shows the drive as unformatted and "Primary" type. So I deleted the partition again and tried to format again. When it finished I got another error message, "Update system information failed!" I press the 'OK' and the drive shows as unallocated.
a c 327 G Storage
June 25, 2013 12:43:25 PM

It MAY be that the HDD has a bad sector or a few that cannot be written properly. Since you appear NOT to want to preserve any old data on it. maybe you can wipte it thoroughly clean and start over.

For starters, what is the maker's name / brand? (This may help point to free utilities to do the work.) Do you have a Model Number for it?

What I'm thinking of is a utility to Zero-fill the drive. It writes zeroes to every sector of the drive. In doing that, for most drives within the last 10 to 15 years, it triggers an internal automatic error-checking routine that will replace any poorly-performing sectors with spare good ones so that the drive works perfectly again. As you can imagine, this does not always solve all problems, but it is a good way to start re-using old HDD units. After that is done you may also be able to run thorough diagnostic tests on the unit to be sure it is reliable before you start to use it.

Let us know Make and Model, and we can advise further.
a b G Storage
June 25, 2013 2:19:21 PM

Since you have pretty much wiped the drive several times, just do a quick format in windows disk manager. Change the drive to "logical" and give it a letter. Name it too, if you want. Naming it would help you identify it.
June 26, 2013 9:20:08 AM

spooky2th said:
Since you have pretty much wiped the drive several times, just do a quick format in windows disk manager. Change the drive to "logical" and give it a letter. Name it too, if you want. Naming it would help you identify it.


Tried that. After going through the entire process, it gave me the "Unable to format" error. I haven't had a chance to mess with it since the last suggestion, so I'll let you guys know soon.

Thanks again. At this point it's about not letting this thing win.

It is a Seagate ST360021A.
a c 327 G Storage
June 27, 2013 7:51:47 AM

Since your HDD is from Seagate, download and use their Seatools utility for thorough tests and tools. Find out about it here:

http://origin-www.seagate.com/support/downloads/seatool...

Personally, I prefer the "for DOS" version. You must download an .iso file and then use your own CD-burning utility (like Nero) capable of burning this .iso image to a CD to make a bootable optical disk. You then boot and run from this disk to use their menu-driven set of utilities. You do NOT need any functioning HDD in your system to use this tool.

However, in your case you do have a functioning system with a bootable HDD and Windows working. So you can download instead their "for Windows" version and install it on your C: drive. Then you run it as a Windows app to work on your troubled HDD. On that page linked above, there are links to download the .pdf files of instructions for each version of Seatools. Check them out.

There are two tools you may need for your situation. In the "for Windows" version under Section 3 : Advanced Tests and Features, you'll find "USB Erase Boot Tracks" which says it will work on a HDD in a USB enclosure (I'm presuming that is what you have now) to wipe clean all the key data at the start of the drive so it can be "seen" as completely empty, and should function just like a new empty HDD. That might solve your immediate problem. (I don't know whether the "for DOS" version has this same tool.) The next tool is "Full Erase (SATA)" which does what I outlined in my post above dated June 25 - a Zero Fill that also forces a diagnostic to replace faulty Sectors.

Be CAREFUL of these! Each of these tools is completely destructive of data on a HDD - you cannot recover any data after using them! Now, for your use on the troubled old HDD, that is not a problem - it is actually what you want. BUT you MUST be very sure that you use the tool ONLY on the bad HDD, and NOT on your boot drive, or any other good HDD in your system.
!