Originally Posted by Riverside_Guy
I remember a LONG time ago, every "formatting" utility had clear options for doing the lengthy option (to me "formatting" IS such a thing, the quick option I'd call "initializing" which basically does nothing more than delete the directory) or a quick one. Nowadays, it seems many of those utilities can no longer do a real, low level format... an option that I very much WANT to have.
So I think everyone who says "format" means the simple 30 second process of deleting the directory so the drive thinks all sectors are clear and ready to be written to.
I totally agree. I actually left out the low level formatting option as it's questionable as to if you can really do those these days. Some drive manufacturer tools claim to still allow it. The low level format options of old where you used to go into the bios from the command line, used to actually lay out the physical sectors on the hard drive.
I suppose there are really 3 different format options. low level (best), full format (at least touches every sector on the drive), quick which just erases the allocation tables and only takes 30 seconds.
A low level format could potentially fix a lot of media issues related to the platters. If however the electronics are shot, nothing is going to help it short of replacing the pcb and heads.
The full format, when it touches each sector, does have the opportunity to mark problematic sectors as bad so that they just won't get used. The majority of the time this helps, but on some occassions it just temporarilly masks emerging hardware problems.
The quick format is really pretty useless, unless you know you have a good drive. All it would help with is if the OS got corrupted and they wanted to refresh things.
If I'm feeling ambitions I will probably hook my new drive up to one of my pcs and run the WD utilities to do a full diagnostic and erase of the drive before I put it in.