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Format versus quick format

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August 16, 2006 2:33:34 AM

i am not sure... but i think with normal format alone, everything on the hard drive is designated as 0 (data)... as for quick format, if you install a new OS on your drive over a previous drive that has been used, than you just format to whatever data you store it in... but instead of deleting everything... the file still remains on the drive... but as you use and store more data, those designated as 1 or 0 in the sector will eventually turns into the newer data... so therefore, it is possible to restore a harddrive that is already format using quick format from previous used hard drive


btw I MIGHT BE WRONG ON THIS... THIS IS WHAT I READ and LEARN before... if i am wrong than sorry... feel free to comment more... thanks
August 16, 2006 2:35:19 AM

opps i forgot to say that... it really doesnt mattter... if i were you i would use quick format... it is by far quicker than normal formatting and save you precious time
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August 16, 2006 2:35:59 AM

Quote:
i am not sure... but i think with normal format alone, everything on the hard drive is designated as 0 (data)... as for quick format, if you install a new OS on your drive over a previous drive that has been used, than you just format to whatever data you store it in... but instead of deleting everything... the file still remains on the drive... but as you use and store more data, those designated as 1 or 0 in the sector will eventually turns into the newer data... so therefore, it is possible to restore a harddrive that is already format using quick format from previous used hard drive


btw I MIGHT BE WRONG ON THIS... THIS IS WHAT I READ and LEARN before... if i am wrong than sorry... feel free to comment more... thanks


thats what i heard too. quick is just randomizing the data to make it unreadable but it does not order the HD. full is a compleate whack.


i wanna see the technical answer to this too.... anyone got anything better.... maybe with pictures.
August 16, 2006 2:51:36 AM

ok i have no 100% techie answer but mine would be

quick Format:
Erases the Drive's MFT file

Full Format:
Erases everything and resets all Magnetic platters

The MFT file is really a like a giant database detailing where each file starts and ends. It's like a directory to find all the data on a harddrive. Deleting MFT file would only cause the computer to forget where the information is located but the information is still be physically there incase you need to recover it. Also the MFT is also reserves space on a harddrive so in a attempt to prevent itself from becomming fragmented. On a brand new drive it could even reserve up to 1/5 of it. As data is entered, the "MFT Zone" is used. IF you use primarily Big files the MFT file will be small, if you have primarily small files, the MFT would be relatively large (more entries). However, this resizing doesnt happen all the time, it only happens when either if there's not enough room for more files or if the MFT zone is filled.. then the drive is changed to properly suit hte situtation.

Oh and you want pictures too huh? fine ill find something for ya...

picture

(this is a picture of Perfect Disk 7, a 3rd party Defragmentation utility)
August 16, 2006 2:57:17 AM

I cant back it up but a number of people have said a regular format will also find bad sectors where as a quick may not.
August 16, 2006 2:57:53 AM

i've had issues with quick format before doing an os install (crashing freezing data corruption) so for my os drive i always use the full format but for everything else i use the quick
August 16, 2006 3:10:42 AM

from microsoft, link here: http://support.microsoft.com/?kbid=302686

This article describes the differences between a Quick format and a regular format.
MORE INFORMATION
When you choose to run a regular format on a volume, files are removed from the volume that you are formatting and the hard disk is scanned for bad sectors. The scan for bad sectors is responsible for the majority of the time that it takes to format a volume.

If you choose the Quick format option, format removes files from the partition, but does not scan the disk for bad sectors. Only use this option if your hard disk has been previously formatted and you are sure that your hard disk is not damaged.

If you installed Windows XP on a partition that was formatted by using the Quick format option, you can also check your disk by using the chkdsk /r command after the installation of Windows XP is completed.

valis
August 16, 2006 3:31:05 AM

Valis reply above tells you exactly what you need to know.

I recommend you do a *full format* at the time you install Windows. A full format will find any bad sectors on the drive, a quick one will not.

Modern hard drives seldom have bad sectors on them (when they are brand new) but if there is one and, a piece of the O/S happens to be "written" there it can cause you all kinds of trouble.

It is worth the wait. While it formats you can plan what's left to do to optimize your system.

HTH.
August 16, 2006 3:34:53 AM

Here is a brief comparison:

Quick Format - only rewrites the boot record of the media and makes the whole space available for writing data. Althought physically, previous data is still present, only marked as free space.

Full Format - formats everything as well as test each sector for Read/Write problems. Sectors with problems are marked as bad. Since it tests every sector, depending on the hard drive size and computer speed may take many minutes or hours to do.
August 16, 2006 6:31:40 AM

i always use quick format wen installin an os. i have probly used it 20-30 times and never had a problem.
August 16, 2006 10:25:43 AM

I got some bad sectors in a second hand 40GB maxtor drive a couple weeks ago. i fix them and i kept gettin more and more until it crashed.

apart from this i have never or had a friend/family member ever a get a bad sector.

IMO full format is a waste of time
August 16, 2006 11:48:48 AM

Well, the previous posts tell you what you need to know. Quick format only erases the boot sector, full the whole disc is checked and it writes 0 in all the sectors. It takes time, but i DEFINITELY recomend it. It will save you time and nerves if anything happens and you have to do it all over again. I myself always use full format.
August 16, 2006 12:17:58 PM

I think someone needs to point out that either formatting option isn't fully secure if data destruction is the goal. Tools exist to recover data from formatted drives... there are programs that do specialized formats that advertise themselves as unrecoverable... me personally... a hammer is the way I secure an old drive.
August 16, 2006 10:19:09 PM

Thanks for the info everyone. I asked this question after I already did a quick format so let's hope I have no bad sectors--I better not after paying $150 for a 74gb hd.
August 19, 2006 1:28:45 AM

Quote:
i always use quick format wen installing an os. i have probly used it 20-30 times and never had a problem.


Only the first format needs to not be full. After it is unlikely to have any bad sectors till it is dying.

I don't know if this still applies, but way back Norton used to have a option to clear unused sectors in there defragmentation utility. Basically it would set every bit to a 0.

Reason for it was that as the drive writes data to the unused sectors it would fragment the files since it would see the previous data about where to find the next peace of a file and blindly follow that pattern and fragment the newly written files.
December 28, 2008 4:45:56 AM

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/302686

"When you choose to run a regular format on a volume, files are removed from the volume that you are formatting and the hard disk is scanned for bad sectors. The scan for bad sectors is responsible for the majority of the time that it takes to format a volume.

If you choose the Quick format option, format removes files from the partition, but does not scan the disk for bad sectors. Only use this option if your hard disk has been previously formatted and you are sure that your hard disk is not damaged.

If you installed Windows XP on a partition that was formatted by using the Quick format option, you can also check your disk by using the chkdsk /r command after the installation of Windows XP is completed."
March 27, 2009 12:23:52 AM

It is very unlikely that a new drive will have any bad sectors, but as you are going to do a format only once (hopefully) it is better to do a full format so any fault with the drive is detected before you start using it.
March 27, 2009 12:40:47 AM

Windows doesn't zero-write the partition when formatting. Even with a long format file recovery is still possible. Both the quick and full format will delete the first 20MB or so of the partition, so the filesystem is unusable and normal access isn't possible. With advanced recovery, files can still be recovered after this procedure! So if you want to make recovery impossible, you need to use zero-writing instead, or better randomizing data using a linux livecd.

The only difference between the two options, is that full format scans for bad sectors (just READS no zero-write). This is useful for older disks so windows can skip those and put a record of which sectors are 'bad' and to be avoided. Not really an issue on modern drives since they do that internally.
March 27, 2009 2:05:08 PM

It took well over 30 hours to complete the format, probably since I formatted in Windows (not Windows Setup), but it was definitely worth the wait. I have not encountered any bad sectors or data corruption, running this computer 24/7 since 12/28/2008.
March 27, 2009 8:37:11 PM

I bought a WD 500 GB about a month ago and I couldn't figure out why my new rig was so darn slow. Turns out the disk was bad. So yes, sometimes they arrive at your house in screwed up condition. I promptly sended it back, got a new one, and it works like a charm. Go figure.

And I'm the opposite - quick format has always let me down. I always do a full format and seem to have better luck that way. Maybe it's just me.
Anonymous
a b G Storage
April 6, 2009 12:44:06 PM

Translucency said:
Windows doesn't zero-write the partition when formatting. Even with a long format file recovery is still possible. Both the quick and full format will delete the first 20MB or so of the partition, so the filesystem is unusable and normal access isn't possible. With advanced recovery, files can still be recovered after this procedure! So if you want to make recovery impossible, you need to use zero-writing instead, or better randomizing data using a linux livecd.

The only difference between the two options, is that full format scans for bad sectors (just READS no zero-write). This is useful for older disks so windows can skip those and put a record of which sectors are 'bad' and to be avoided. Not really an issue on modern drives since they do that internally.


Best Answer
a c 327 G Storage
April 7, 2009 8:19:21 PM

My understanding is that a Quick Format will create empty new spaces for the Root Directory and the File Allocation Table (or whatever relevant structures that NTFS uses) where sector allocation is tracked. However, it does absolutely nothing to the rest of the disk. A full format, however, tests every disk sector to decide whether it can work properly and marks any that fail so it will not be used for data. What I do not understand, though, is how that test is done. It is conceivable that it simply reads the data in the sector, calculates its checksum and compares it to the check from the sector. This presumes that the existing checksum data is correct. Other third-party utilities, I know, will do a test in which the current data is saved to RAM, a new data pattern is written to the sector and then read back, and the result is checked against what is known. Then the original data is written back to the sector. (Actually, I believe this is done on a multi-sector or full-track basis to save time, but the result is the same). Of course, the intermediate possibility is that you could write a known pattern to the sector, read it back and check it. Never mind preserving and restoring the original contents when you're Formatting a new disk, anyway. Among these three methods, I can't find a reference to say what Windows does.

EXCEPT - NOTE this from M$ Knowledge Base.

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/941961/en-us

Apparently in VISTA the new procedure in Full Format does actually write zero's to every byte of every sector. I guess that would allow them to test the sectors by reading and verifying that the data coming back out is all zero's, although the article does not say that specifically. But I suppose, too, that since this is billed as "new" behavior in VISTA, no such operation was done in previous Windows.
November 12, 2009 5:43:21 PM

Some of the replies are correct but incomplete and others are wrong. I used to do tech support for microsoft & have since moved on to hardware oriented tech work, a lot of it with raids. The people quoting the msft site are correct, however, when the site says it removes/erases files that is not accurate. It actually (for either quick or normal) deletes the pointers to files. The files can still be recovered until written over through programs designed to reconstruct the file system data. Yes, normal does basically a checkdisk/scandisk before a quick format. the basic chkdsk is done for about the first 98% of normal format, the remaing 1-2% is basically the same as a quick format.

Neither Quick or Normal format options from MSFT perform a Low Level format to write 0's to the drive. They are not secure. There are separate programs available to do a low level format (write 0's to entire drive) or secure erase (use randomized algorithm's to write different patterns over & over to scramble the data to where it's not recoverable). Low level formats aren't normally done because they're overkill to the nth degree and they take FOREVER to run. A proper secure erase is sufficient for erasing data, including under DOD guidelines & laws regarding securing confidential information for corporations.

The ideas of destructive physical erase methods such as using a hammer or large magnet would only make the data unaccessible to somebody just plugging it into a computer. A quality data recovery lab could likely recover some data after either of these methods.

Anonymous
a b G Storage
November 21, 2009 10:34:57 AM

stickittoem said:
Some of the replies are correct but incomplete and others are wrong. I used to do tech support for microsoft & have since moved on to hardware oriented tech work, a lot of it with raids. The people quoting the msft site are correct, however, when the site says it removes/erases files that is not accurate. It actually (for either quick or normal) deletes the pointers to files. The files can still be recovered until written over through programs designed to reconstruct the file system data. Yes, normal does basically a checkdisk/scandisk before a quick format. the basic chkdsk is done for about the first 98% of normal format, the remaing 1-2% is basically the same as a quick format.

Neither Quick or Normal format options from MSFT perform a Low Level format to write 0's to the drive. They are not secure. There are separate programs available to do a low level format (write 0's to entire drive) or secure erase (use randomized algorithm's to write different patterns over & over to scramble the data to where it's not recoverable). Low level formats aren't normally done because they're overkill to the nth degree and they take FOREVER to run. A proper secure erase is sufficient for erasing data, including under DOD guidelines & laws regarding securing confidential information for corporations.

The ideas of destructive physical erase methods such as using a hammer or large magnet would only make the data unaccessible to somebody just plugging it into a computer. A quality data recovery lab could likely recover some data after either of these methods.


All very true I can only see the people who think an XP full format does some thing more to the hard drive (other than a chkdsk) are wrong.

But according to Paperdoc and the M$ link he gave vista does zero fill for full formats.

This sounds strange because true zero filling takes ages. Is this a true zero fill M$ is talking about?
a b G Storage
November 21, 2009 12:35:19 PM

Do you realize you guys just wasted your time replying to a post that is 3 years old?
December 13, 2009 9:01:37 AM

May be three years old but the later info has left me much more confortable with a problem of recovery i have today
Anonymous
a b G Storage
January 6, 2010 6:34:28 AM

blackhawk1928 said:
Do you realize you guys just wasted your time replying to a post that is 3 years old?


Do you just realize that you just wasted your time posting that, as I have i just by posting this?
January 10, 2010 1:21:14 PM

Most of the time if you format you actually want to erase every sector on the hard drive. Sometimes viruses can linger if you just delete the MFT and delete the partitions. Which is bad... hence the importance of a complete data eraser (DoD 5220.22-M or other variants). It's not the disk check so much as actually deleting all the data, as I understand can't be done with windows CD's -- supposedly. Plus if you SELL your computer at any point in time you don't want your confidential information to still be retrievable if you haven't happened to of written over it. Like your CC#'s... SSN#. That could all still be there with a quick format. Overly cautious is important due to the possibility of identity theft.

As to blackhawk1928, this thread is still read 3 years later by a random internet search, hence the continued posting :) . I Was searching for if vista installation CD could actually perform a surface format and encountered this thread. Someone else will read it. So it is worthwhile to respond to it. :bounce: 
February 2, 2010 8:04:29 AM

Translucency said:
Windows doesn't zero-write the partition when formatting. Even with a long format file recovery is still possible. Both the quick and full format will delete the first 20MB or so of the partition, so the filesystem is unusable and normal access isn't possible. With advanced recovery, files can still be recovered after this procedure! So if you want to make recovery impossible, you need to use zero-writing instead, or better randomizing data using a linux livecd.

The only difference between the two options, is that full format scans for bad sectors (just READS no zero-write). This is useful for older disks so windows can skip those and put a record of which sectors are 'bad' and to be avoided. Not really an issue on modern drives since they do that internally.


Being someone who works around technicians everyday, that last comment needs to be emphasized. MODERN hard drives typically don't need a full format, and full format does NOT zero-write.
February 2, 2010 7:37:55 PM

Look at link given by Paperdoc earlier in this thread http://support.microsoft.com/kb/941961/en-us

Windows Vista (and by extension Windows 7) WILL write zeroes for a normal Format (I am formatting a 500GB drive as I pen this and the total time to format is about 50 minutes)

Do modern drives need it? That is a matter of personal preference.
February 4, 2010 2:06:23 AM

it is possible to recover data off a HD even after writing over it up to 3 times.

My last job I worked at my university there were three things that could happen to a harddrive when we got rid of it.

#1. hydraulic press would crush/hole punch it
#2. 5 pass random data NSA grade wipe
#3. we removed the magnets to bring home, then we took a 5lb ball-peen hammer with hardened steel and fiberglass handle to the platters. Yes, we got a $50 hammer just for smashing harddrives. Came at the same time as a 96port managed gigabit switch just for our room, and a 10 gallon air compressor to blow dust out of computers.

#3 was more exciting but #1 was pretty fun to.. #2 made more money. The air compressor was lots of fun to. Should've seen some of the mushroom clouds and old dusty computer could make when you blew 80psi at it.

P.S. I loved my student job
a b G Storage
February 4, 2010 7:29:39 AM

This thread just hasn't died in 4 years.
!