Windows – How to do a low-level format

bad-sectorshard drivewindows

I have a hard disk which has some bad sectors on it. And it said when I booted in Linux mint that I already need to replace the hard disk.
But I don't have yet the money. I'm just a student.
How do I do a low level format? What do I need to do before trying to do it?Is there a particular time span until all of the hard disk breaks down and lose all of my data wen it has already bad sectors on it? How long will a low-level format take, for a laptop with 2Ghz core 2 duo processor and 2Gb ram.

Best Answer

The terminology "Low Level Format" as used by MHDD32 and everyone here is incorrect. MHDD32 uses this term to refer to issuing an "erase" command to every sector on the hard drive. This is NOT what a true "Low Level Format" is. Writing to every sector will force the drive's firmware to indeed "recalculate ECC" and also remap bad sectors into spare sectors (if it has any left) - so this is useful for repairing drives with bad sectors (although the disk should really be replaced soon).

A low-level format is a process where the drive writes things like sync marks and sector markers to the disk, which would only not be present if the disk is basically a fresh unmagnetized platter from the factory. A disk that has not been nor ever been truly low-level formatted will therefore be physically unreadable. Writing all zeros to all sectors, or any sectors, requires the basic "framework" signaling be written on the disk for the drive controller to be able to find specific sectors.

There was a time in the early to mid 80's before Windows dominance where floppy disks were typically sold "unformatted" - and this low-level format had to be performed for the disk to be useable. The old DOS FORMAT command did the low-level format automatically unless you used the /Q switch for a "quick format" - which was not possible on a never-formatted disk. Linux has separate commands for the low-level (fdformat) and high-level (mke2fs, etc.) format.

The old MFM and RLL hard drives were the same way, but they typically came pre-low-level-formatted from the factory (complete with a sticker listing known defective sectors). But you could perform a true low-level format - one way was to call the low-level format in the controller's ROM directly using the old DOS DEBUG command (http://discussions.virtualdr.com/archive/index.php/t-69312.html). Also read this: http://www.redhill.net.au/d/10.php

IDE drives did not typically provide a user accessible low-level format routine or command and therefore it's not possible to do a true low-level format on these types of drives. You never know what types of diagnostic or debug commands are available on a drive, and what the code on the firmware is capable of doing, but that is the only way a true low-level format would be possible on modern drives.