What does formatting mean?


Staff member
Apr 23, 2023
Perhaps you know what a quick format is? Do you know the answers to other questions related to formatting? For example, what is comprehensive formatting, what is low-level formatting, and will files be lost after formatting? Can it be retrieved? Under what circumstances can it be retrieved, and under what circumstances can it not be retrieved?

What does formatting mean?​

The hard disk needs to be formatted before it can be used. This is similar to the reason that the blank room needs to be decorated before it can be used. Formatting is because various operating systems must manage the disk in a certain way, and only formatting can make the structure of the disk. recognized by the operating system.

Formatting is divided into high-level formatting and low-level formatting. Advanced formatting is just to clear the data on the hard disk, generate boot information, initialize the FAT table, mark logical bad sectors, etc. The low-level format is to divide the hard disk into cylinders and tracks, and then divide the tracks into several sectors, and each sector is divided into identification part ID, interval area, GAP, and data area DATA, etc.

Low-level formatting is a job before high-level formatting, and each hard disk has been low-level formatted before leaving the factory. Low-level formatting is a lossy operation, which has a certain negative impact on the life of the hard disk. And the formatting under Windows (including the formatting used under DOS) that we usually use is advanced formatting.

The difference between low-level formatting and high-level formatting​

High-level formatting is system-dependent, while low-level formatting is system-independent. The advanced format mainly formats each partition of the hard disk and divides the tracks logically. For advanced formatting, different operating systems have different formatting methods, different formatting results, and different track divisions. The low-level format is a physical-level format, which is mainly used to divide the magnetic cylinder of the hard disk, establish the number of sectors, and select the sector interval ratio. A new hard disk needs to be low-level formatted first before it can be advanced formatted, but generally, the hard disks on sale have been low-level formatted before leaving the factory, so users do not need to perform low-level formatting again.

Low-level formatting does not belong to the daily use of the disk and is a damaging operation that affects the life of the hard disk. Therefore, many hard disk manufacturers advise users not to use low-level formatting unless it is necessary. Generally, when the hard disk is affected by external strong magnets and strong magnetic fields, or due to long-term use, the magnetic records of the sector format divided by low-level formatting on the hard disk are lost, resulting in a large number of bad sectors, then it is necessary to use low-level formatting. Re-sectorization, provided that the hard disk is not physically damaged. HDD Low-Level Format Tool can be used as a hard disk low-format tool.

Advanced formatting belongs to the normal use range of the disk, and has no adverse effect on the hard disk. Mark the disk according to the partition format, and then generate the boot area information, initialize the space allocation table, mark the logical bad sectors, check the data, etc., so that the operating system can read and write the disk, so the advanced format method is different from the operating system. Different, or because of different partition formats.

The difference between quick format and general format:​

1. Quick format only deletes the files in the drive and does not rewrite the disk sectors. Generally, formatting rewrites disk sectors, so it is slower.

2. the quick format is only to erase the data on the surface, and there are still means to restore it. In addition to erasing data, general formatting will also detect the hard disk, and the chance of recovery is very low.

3. the general formatting time is very long. But it will fully detect the hard disk when formatting and will prompt if there are bad sectors. The quick format takes very little time, but if the hard disk has bad sectors, no prompt will appear.

By default, the quick format is ticked, and if you need general formatting, remove the tick.

So in fact, you can use the quick format for daily use. If you need to maintain the computer at a longer interval, such as computer maintenance of the computer for 1 year or 2 years, you can remove the tick for general formatting.

Supplementary knowledge: Will the file be lost if it is formatted? Can it be retrieved? Under what circumstances can it be retrieved, and under what circumstances can it not be retrieved?​

When the computer files are stored on the disk, it is a registration method similar to the figure below.


Then when the deletion is performed, the location where the file is stored is not actually deleted, but the record that was deleted first. When a new file needs to be written, the location that is recorded as deleted is slowly occupied by the new file.

To give a popular example, let’s say that A lives in a certain apartment, and the apartment administrator has registered all the accommodation information. To delete a certain A is to delete the registration information of the administrator first, and the person is still in the apartment. When there is a new person When you check in and arrange the room where the previously deleted A is located, the certain A is actually deleted.

This is why you can try to restore the deleted file, because it may just be that the registration information has been deleted, there is no new person to check in, and a certain A has not been really deleted.

So we say whether the deleted file can be restored is not 100%. It has just been deleted and no new data is written. The probability of being restored is close to 100%. However, if there is new data written, it is likely that part of the data will be replaced by new data. Occupation, the previous files cannot be completely restored.

In the disk erasing operation of the Apple system, there is a security option. The highest security level is to erase seven times and rewrite the data.
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