Formatting....solve an argument?

Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format their hard
drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS
recommends every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on that). Anyone
have an opinion? Or solid documentation?
13 answers Last reply
More about formatting solve argument
  1. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    In Windows 9x, many recommended formatting every 6 months or so, I don't
    recall any such documentation from Microsoft on this but many well respected
    periodicals and experienced 9x users did make such recommendation.

    This does not apply to Windows XP. Windows 9x did not do a good job of
    cleaning up after itself and the only way to get read of a lot of the
    garbage it picked up over the months or years was to format. XP does a much
    better job in this regard and routine maintenance of this type is generally
    not necessary with XP. While 9x would tend to bog down over time the more
    you used it, XP often is exactly the opposite, tending run better as time
    goes on.

    Obviously, there are things that can change the equation. If you've had
    some major crash and have sourced it, if you have a lot of malware or had
    viruses and removed them, you may find a fresh start is in order, just be
    sure any backup you have does not contain the viruses or malware. Often,
    however, all that is required is a repair install as opposed to a format.
    If the system is still sluggish after using the repair install option, then
    you might consider a fresh start with a format.

    Under normal circumstances it usually isn't necessary and routine formats of
    an XP system are not required or recommended.

    --
    Michael Solomon MS-MVP
    Windows Shell/User
    Backup is a PC User's Best Friend
    DTS-L.Org: http://www.dts-l.org/

    "Paul Power" <Paul Power@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
    news:A7BF59B8-321B-4037-AA5A-FD28698FAA65@microsoft.com...
    > Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format their
    > hard
    > drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS
    > recommends every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on that).
    > Anyone
    > have an opinion? Or solid documentation?
  2. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    How laughable. I have known HDD that haven't been formatted for 5 years or
    more. The phalacy that one gains any sort of performance from reformatting a
    hard drive x number of months or years is simply an urban legend. If there is
    nothing wrong with the HDD or the OS or any of the applied hardware\software
    there simply isn't any need to reformat at all. The gains are in the tweaking
    of the registry and things like overclocking. Proper maintenance and
    knowledge are the keys to a good and stable OS. I know of one XP machine that
    has never had the HDD formatted accept at the time of the install of the OS.
    That's going on three years. {]:~)
  3. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    " The phalacy that one gains...." Don't you mean fallacy?

    "I know of one XP machine that has never had the HDD formatted accept at the
    time" Don't you mean except?

    You ever finish the sixth grade?

    "The Unknown P" wrote:

    > How laughable. I have known HDD that haven't been formatted for 5 years or
    > more. The phalacy that one gains any sort of performance from reformatting a
    > hard drive x number of months or years is simply an urban legend. If there is
    > nothing wrong with the HDD or the OS or any of the applied hardware\software
    > there simply isn't any need to reformat at all. The gains are in the tweaking
    > of the registry and things like overclocking. Proper maintenance and
    > knowledge are the keys to a good and stable OS. I know of one XP machine that
    > has never had the HDD formatted accept at the time of the install of the OS.
    > That's going on three years. {]:~)
    >
  4. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    You shouldn't re-format your HDD unless you had a good
    reason. You would have to re-install all your apps and re-
    customize all of your settings...
    Maybe he meant Defragment not re-format?
  5. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    You format when you need it. YOU are the determining factor!

    --
    Regards:

    Richard Urban

    aka Crusty (-: Old B@stard :-)


    "Paul Power" <Paul Power@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
    news:A7BF59B8-321B-4037-AA5A-FD28698FAA65@microsoft.com...
    > Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format their
    > hard
    > drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS
    > recommends every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on that).
    > Anyone
    > have an opinion? Or solid documentation?
  6. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    The Unknown P wrote:

    > How laughable. I have known HDD that haven't been formatted for 5 years or
    > more. The phalacy that one gains any sort of performance from reformatting a
    > hard drive x number of months or years is simply an urban legend. If there is
    > nothing wrong with the HDD or the OS or any of the applied hardware\software
    > there simply isn't any need to reformat at all. The gains are in the tweaking
    > of the registry and things like overclocking. Proper maintenance and
    > knowledge are the keys to a good and stable OS. I know of one XP machine that
    > has never had the HDD formatted accept at the time of the install of the OS.
    > That's going on three years. {]:~)
    >

    Phalacy??? Is that an untrue story about a phallus?
  7. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    --
    D

    I'm not an MVP a VIP nor do I have ESP.
    I was just trying to help.
    Please use your own best judgment before implementing any suggestions or
    advice herein.
    No warranty is expressed or implied.
    Your mileage may vary.
    See store for details. :)

    Remove shoes to E-mail.
    "Paul Power" <Paul Power@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
    news:A7BF59B8-321B-4037-AA5A-FD28698FAA65@microsoft.com...
    | Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format their
    hard
    | drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS
    | recommends every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on that).
    Anyone
    | have an opinion? Or solid documentation?
  8. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    "Paul Power" <Paul Power@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
    news:A7BF59B8-321B-4037-AA5A-FD28698FAA65@microsoft.com...
    | Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format their
    hard
    | drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS
    | recommends every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on that).
    Anyone
    | have an opinion? Or solid documentation?

    Opps..

    I'd have to agree with the others. Reformatting a harddrive because x amount
    of time has gone by makes no sense at all.

    A family member recently closed their medical office and I inherited two of
    their old computers, both heavily used for years with out ever having been
    reformatted. (one a vintage 486 DX66 running Windows 3.11 ) A little cleanup
    and they both run fine. (and I have a computer with a 5.25" floppy drive :-)

    I just recently had to reformat my Wife's PIII 500 Gateway (bought new) with
    Windows 98 for the first time after a rouge Law Office application made the
    C:\ drive inaccessible.

    My 2+ Year old XP desktop is running as well as when new on the original
    install and my 1+ year old XP laptop is the same.

    A computer can certainly "sludge up" over time but with good maintenance and
    a little safe hex they can and do run for years without intervention.

    --
    D

    I'm not an MVP a VIP nor do I have ESP.
    I was just trying to help.
    Please use your own best judgment before implementing any suggestions or
    advice herein.
    No warranty is expressed or implied.
    Your mileage may vary.
    See store for details. :)

    Remove shoes to E-mail.
  9. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    LOL LOL> I suppose you never make either typing errors or spelling mistakes.
    I answer literally hundreds of postings and don't take the time to spell
    check each one. The air must be thin up there on your throne. Take a pill and
    learn to relax a little. Life simply isn't that serious. You'll give yourself
    a heart attack being so rigid. Breath in. Out. In. Out. Now doesn't that feel
    better. {]:~)
  10. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    Paul Power wrote:
    > Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one
    > should format their hard drive. One person suggests doing
    > it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS recommends
    > every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on
    > that). Anyone have an opinion? Or solid documentation?


    The only time one "needs" to format a hard drive is when one is
    replacing the operating system with another, and an upgrade isn't a
    viable solution. If someone is claiming that one should format the
    hard drive and reinstall everything on some sort of periodic schedule,
    he should stick to flipping burgers at McDonalds. There is absolutely
    no valid technical reason to perform such periodic "maintenance" on a
    properly configured and maintained computer, unless the computer is in
    a testing environment and a "clean slate" is required at the start of
    each testing cycle.

    Why don't you ask you acquaintances to provide some sort of
    documentation supporting such extreme measures?

    --

    Bruce Chambers

    Help us help you:
    http://dts-l.org/goodpost.htm
    http://www.catb.org/~esr/faqs/smart-questions.html

    You can have peace. Or you can have freedom. Don't ever
    count on having both at once. - RAH
  11. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    "Paul Power" <Paul Power@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
    news:A7BF59B8-321B-4037-AA5A-FD28698FAA65@microsoft.com...
    > Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format their
    > hard
    > drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS
    > recommends every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on that).
    > Anyone
    > have an opinion? Or solid documentation?

    There is no requirement to reformat you hard drive at all unless you wish to
    do so in preparation for the clean install of a new operating system etc.
    Why does you friend fell it is necessary to reformat every 3 to 4 months ?
    That would be totally impractical in the real world (or coproates). for
    example I have just finished a project where we upgraded machines with
    Windows 2000 to Windows XP (10,000 plus machines). Those 2000 machines had
    not been reformatted in the 2 plus years of their use and only received a
    reformat to allow for a clean install of the new Windows XP build. These
    machines will not be reformatted again until either a new OS build or their
    end of their life.


    --

    Regards,

    Mike
    --
    Mike Brannigan [Microsoft]

    This posting is provided "AS IS" with no warranties, and confers no
    rights

    Please note I cannot respond to e-mailed questions, please use these
    newsgroups

    "Paul Power" <Paul Power@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
    news:A7BF59B8-321B-4037-AA5A-FD28698FAA65@microsoft.com...
    > Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format their
    > hard
    > drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS
    > recommends every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on that).
    > Anyone
    > have an opinion? Or solid documentation?
  12. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    "Paul Power" <Paul Power@discussions.microsoft.com>
    wrote in news:A7BF59B8-321B-4037-AA5A-FD28698FAA65@microsoft.com:
    > Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format
    > their hard drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months.
    > Another says that MS recommends every 2 years (I would like to see
    > documentation on that). Anyone have an opinion? Or solid
    > documentation?

    It is not reformatting that is important. It is rewriting the data that
    is important. I'm no physics PhD so the following is my layman's view
    on what happens. Hard drives are magnetic recording devices. This uses
    magnetic dipoles (or is it magnetic domains?) to record ones and zeros.
    There is magnetic stress when the dipoles are aligned different to each
    other and they tend to realign over time (i.e., there is torque for them
    to realign back to their most lax arrangment). This makes the data
    "soft". Magnetic retentivity refers to the residual magnet field left
    behind after erasing the media but also represents the ability to retain
    a magnetic field, and it wanes over time so you end up with soft areas
    on your hard drive (i.e., your data fades away if it never gets
    exercised by rewriting it). Reading the data is nondestructive (i.e.,
    reading the data doesn't change it so you don't have to rewrite it).
    During a read, the magnetic flux generates an electrical current in the
    read head (it detects reversals), or the resistance in the read head
    changes due to the magnetic flux (i.e., magnetoresistive read head), but
    the data is never changed and then restored so it is never refreshed.
    If reading the bits was destructive which would then require them to be
    rewritten then they would always get refreshed simply by reading them.
    I haven't seen anything yet that says reading the data is destructive
    and forces a rewrite of it (because this would really slow down the read
    operation to do the read and follow with a write). So just refresh the
    data yourself (i.e., force a rewrite of it).

    Typically files change position often enough to leave varying open spots
    on the disk for unused sectors, so defragmenting all the partitions is
    often sufficient to force a refresh of the data (because it got moved).
    A single defrag won't move all data but over years the files probably
    move around enough through use and defragging that those that didn't get
    moved before do get moved later. The other method is to use a refresh
    utility that reads the data, copies it to a holding area (that was first
    verified okay for use and then verifies any data written to it to ensure
    readability), wipes the old spot with several various bit patterns, and
    then rewrites (moves) the data back, or, and if sufficient free space is
    available, just do the bit pattern overwrites in the unused area, move
    the data over there, and verify the new copy of the data before erasing
    it from the old spot and updating the file table (so it is akin to
    defragging but you are also exercising and verifying the new spot to
    which the data gets moved). Even running 'chkdsk /r' will probably be
    sufficient in most cases.

    The problem doesn't crop up much anymore for hard drives unless you are
    archiving them for backups for long periods of times (but then relying
    on a backup *device* rather than just the media means you also risk the
    mechanicals of the device failing due to physical or electrical shock or
    just plain component failure whereas you can just replace the drive and
    continue using the media). I've seen the problem mostly occur with
    floppies, the solution of which is to copy the files into a temp
    directory on the hard drive, format the floppy, and copy the files back
    which effectively refreshes the bits on the floppy (although only
    minimal surface testing and no alignment checking was done by the FORMAT
    program). You could defragment the floppy to effect a refresh (but only
    for those sectors that actually got moved) but that would take longer
    than just moving the files, formatting, and moving the files back plus
    you may not have sufficient free space to perform the defrag.

    The drive hardware (platter) itself may develop soft spots and might be
    discovered by using Scandisk with its surface check option or running
    'chkdsk /r', but remember that these utilities allow for recovery. A
    spot might be tested a max of 15 times before it is declared bad and
    marked unusable, but what if it passes on the 14th retry? Do you really
    want to use media that is near failure but manages to just pass as okay?
    Other and better 3rd party utilities will probably give much more
    control and details as to soft spots and the quality and current state
    of your media. Data retention wanes over time and can go soft enough to
    cause problems, especially if temperatures are elevated, so you'll want
    to refresh your bits. Defragging might be enough but only if
    fragmentation is allowed to become excessive so lots of sectors get
    moved on each defrag, but who wants to let their mass storage subsystem
    get progressively slower due to increasing fragmentation just so they up
    the chance that more files get moved around? A refresh utility will
    exercise the data in place even if the partition has little or no
    fragmentation. A reformat is not necessary unless you feel that repeated
    defragging won't exercise ALL files and you don't want to use a disk
    refresh utility.

    Be aware that defragging will never touch the MBR (master boot record).
    Typically the only part of the MBR that ever changes is the partition
    table *if* you change or move partitions (and then only a portion of the
    partition table entry for those partitions gets changed unless you also
    change the partition type and what all other attributes are recorded in
    the partition table entry). The bootstrap program (first 460 bytes) and
    disk signature bytes of the MBR don't get touched by whatever
    maintenance you do within the partitions because the MBR is not in any
    partition. Defrag also won't touch the boot sector (first sector) of
    the partition(s). Portions of large files may never get moved by defrag
    so that area of the disk never gets refreshed. If it is something you
    are really concerned about, get a utility that refreshes the disk. I
    haven't bothered with one for around 6 or 8 years (but then I'm not
    using hard drives to archive backups and the desktops usually get
    updated around 3 years, or less, with bigger drives). Overall, hard
    drives will fail (crash, get electrically or physically shocked, sieze
    up) so their survival is shorter lived than for when problems crop up
    from data or media going soft, or they get upgraded (by replacement)
    long before then. However, I have had floppies get weak after about 3
    years and a "refresh" gets them working again.

    As far as a refresh utility goes, the only one that I can recall at the
    moment is SpinRite. My hard drives don't physically exist long enough
    for me to care; i.e., they die or get replaced long before data or media
    goes "soft". In Scandisk for Windows 9x/ME, it has an option to check
    the surface. It's surface check isn't anywhere near as thorough as
    Spinrite's but it was good enough for me. Windows NT/2000/XP has
    'chkdsk /r' to check the disk surface and that should be sufficient for
    most users, along with doing defrags. You already have sufficient tools
    included in Windows for "probably good enough" refreshing of your disk
    media. However, if you're ever in dire straits with critical data too
    soft to read reliably from the disk, you'll need something better to
    retrieve it, if possible, and to maintain that disk thereafter, and if
    sufficiently burned by that experience then you'll probably start
    maintaining your other drives, too. If "probably good enough"
    protection from data or media becoming soft is not good enough then
    you'll need to check what disk refresh utilities are available.

    I'm sure by now that there has to be something other than Spinrite that
    does equal or more thorough data and media checking, alignment analysis,
    data recovery, and refreshing patterns and verification. Running
    'chkdsk /r', Scandisk with its surface check option, or PartitionMagic
    that can recover from bad sectors are "regular octane" solutions but
    some folks want "premium octane" preventative maintenance and disaster
    recovery tools. I lost my Spinrite in a move so I couldn't get an
    upgrade at a discounted price and never bothered buying a full version
    after that, but then I haven't yet again ran into a hard drive that has
    exhibited soft data or soft spots (that the simpler tools already
    available couldn't handle well enough). Ontrack has their EasyRecovery
    DataRecovery software but I don't know how it compares against the
    cheaper-priced Spinrite. SpinRite hasn't had an upgrade in something
    like 5 years but I hear version 6 is being worked on (I haven't kept up
    on what is happening with it).

    --
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  13. Archived from groups: microsoft.public.windowsxp.basics (More info?)

    Only when absolutely necessary.
    "Paul Power" <Paul Power@discussions.microsoft.com> wrote in message
    news:A7BF59B8-321B-4037-AA5A-FD28698FAA65@microsoft.com...
    > Having a rip roaring discussion about how often one should format their hard
    > drive. One person suggests doing it every 3-4 months. Another says that MS
    > recommends every 2 years (I would like to see documentation on that). Anyone
    > have an opinion? Or solid documentation?
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