What's the best way to completely format a hard drive without causing damage?
Hi, I want to have my hdd absolutely clean before intalling windows 7 again.
If you mean by "completely clean" that ALL previous data has been removed from everywhere, the process can be simple, just takes time. Download from the WD website their utility package Data LifeGuard. Check this web page for more complete instructions:
Personally, I prefer to use the "for DOS" option. Using it, you must burn the downloaded version to a CD, then boot from that CD to use the tools. What you should use is the "Zero Fill" option. WARNING!! This totally destroys ALL data on the HDD you're working with, so make VERY SURE you choose to destroy data on the correct HDD unit!
A Zero Fill take a long time - several hours for your HDD - because it writes zeroes to EVERY sector of the unit. This operation also triggers a built-in self-check process that ends ups substituting known-good sectors for any found to be weak or failed, so that you have a "perfect" HDD when it is finished.
After you have done the Zero Fill, the HDD is just like brand new from the factory. Then you can start a fresh Install of Windows.
The link provided below is a tool from Western Digital that has an option to write all 0's to the hard drive. This will fully delete everything from the hard disks themselves. Just ensure you select the correct drive when performing this option, after it's complete you should be golden!
The link killakallies provided above is to the Windows version of what I mentioned. The "problem" with it is that you would need to be using a machine with Windows installed on one HDD to boot and run from, plus your old HDD installed in it to wipe. Then you'd move your wiped HDD back to its original desktop and start your re-Install. If you use the "for DOS" version burned to a bootable CD, this can be done on ONE machine, wiping its only HDD (the old one) so you are ready to re-Install Windows. Either way works - your choice.