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Prepping a used Hard Drive for OS installation

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February 5, 2012 1:45:50 AM

While waiting for my old computer to die I'd like to prepare myself for the steps that will be involved in building a new one.

I do already have a bunch of pieces I plan on using in my next build. I suspect that it's the motherboard that is going to fail on me (it's been acting weird on me all month), but the case, the PSU, the RAM, indeed most of the rest should be usable in my next build. All I figure I will need to get is a new mobo, a new CPU, and an OS and I should be ready to go. The problem is that my current computer is using a 500 GB Western Digital Blue or something... I would like to get something a little better.

I had actually bought a very nice 2TB Wester Digital Black (thankfully just before the floods), and I would like to use him as the boot disk (or whatever you call the primary hard drive that holds the operating system). I dabbled with the idea of getting an SSD, but apparently the ones that hold all of Windows 7 need to be 80GB, just a little too rich for me. So yeah. Now... when I bought the Black I was pretty confused, I had never done this before. I bought an external hard drive enclosure so that I could plug it into my desktop using eSATA. That didn't work very well (my computer starts lagging like crazy whenever I transfer files that way) so I've been mostly using the USB cable. When I first plugged it in my computer didn't even see it so I had to "format" it. I sort of made it up as I went along, so I don't remember all the details. Just that in the end it worked and I got a nice beefy drive to back up my music, movies and pictures.

Now... I'm guessing I am going to have to reformat it again, wipe it clean as it were, and I have no idea how to do that. Thankfully I found this amazing deal on a 3TB external HD (this one can't be removed from the enclosure and put into the desktop, it's stuck there, which is fine). So I'm transfering all my files from the 2TB into the 3TB, I just need some step by step instructions on how to safely wipe the 2TB. I want a clean start so my Operating System will run smooth as silk. One thing that might help is when I was first formatting it the computer asked me if I wanted my drive to be NTFS or exFAT (I have no idea what those mean). I picked NTFS, so I imagine that's the "setting" the drive is currently at.

As I said earlier, I won't be able to try this any time soon, I'm just prepparing. I'm hoping my current rig can tough for a few more months. I don't honestly expect CPU/Mobo prices to drop all that much in that time, but it will allow me to save up more money. I'd like it to be a nice i5-2500K rig if can.

Other specs:
7200 RPM,
Cache is either 32 MB or 64 MB... I forget.
External enclosure is a Zalman

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a c 415 G Storage
February 5, 2012 3:01:48 AM

It's very simple to do. Boot from the Windows installation DVD, and when you get to the screen that says "Which type of installation do you want" click the "Custom (advanced)" option. That will show you the disks that you can install Windows onto.

Click the "Drive options (advanced)" link in that window, and that will show options to delete/format/create partitions. If you want to get rid of all the old stuff on the drive then just use this window to delete all of the old partitions, then create a new partition to hold windows, select it so that it's highlighted, and click the "Next" button.

A word of advice: when you do the installation make sure that only the drive you're installing Windows onto is connected to the system. If Windows finds any other drives on the system it will try to create a 100MB boot partition on one of them. Most people prefer the OS drive itself to be the boot drive.
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February 5, 2012 2:29:50 PM

I see, and there won't be any confusion to be had between the different motheboard manufacturers? This will be part of Windows 7 itself, not the different UEFI that each company uses? I remember hearing that the layout in there can vary.
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a b G Storage
February 5, 2012 2:44:05 PM

Do just as sminlal stated about, you're sort of making a mountain out of a molehill. Format the drive when the option is available to you during the first part of the install, simple as that. Remove all other drives from your computer before starting the install.
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February 5, 2012 3:08:07 PM

I think the quickest way is to simply format the drive during install. If your truly wanting to wipe the entire drive clean however, then formatting doesnt really do that. To really wipe the drive, you may want to zero fill the drive. The downside is that it can take hours to completely zero fill it. But what your doing is filling the entire drive with zeros, or any number of other characters.
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February 5, 2012 3:51:13 PM

Okay okay, cool. Thanks guys.
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February 5, 2012 3:51:22 PM

Best answer selected by PTNLemay.
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a c 415 G Storage
February 5, 2012 5:21:00 PM

PTNLemay said:
I see, and there won't be any confusion to be had between the different motheboard manufacturers? This will be part of Windows 7 itself, not the different UEFI that each company uses? I remember hearing that the layout in there can vary.
The UEFI on the motherboard is responsible for booting into the Windows installation program. Once that's running, you just have to use the tools inside the program - you no longer have to worry about what motherboard you have. If the installation program runs and can see the drives, then it has all the drivers necessary to do the job. No worries, mate!

Dvaughan said:
If your truly wanting to wipe the entire drive clean however, then formatting doesnt really do that. To really wipe the drive, you may want to zero fill the drive. The downside is that it can take hours to completely zero fill it. But what your doing is filling the entire drive with zeros, or any number of other characters.
The easy way to do that is to simply use the "full format" option (instead of the default "quick format") when you create the partition. Windows will overwrite every block in the partition to ensure it's writable, and that will erase the old data. A national security laboratory may be able to do a forensic analysis on the magnetic domains of the platters to recover the old data, but short of that you won't have anything to worry about.
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February 5, 2012 8:08:45 PM

This topic has been closed by Mousemonkey
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