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Low Level (Polish That Disk)
  • From: Patrick <tracerb@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 25 Apr 2002 11:40:43 -0400
  • Message-id: <E170lNq-0006Ux-00@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Hi List,
Thought I would provide this info for those folks in the dark on hard
drives and "low level formatting" of said drives. My understanding,
beyond the explanations listed below, is that if it were possible or a
program available to do a "real" low level format to an IDE/ATA type
drive, you would literally destroy said drive to the point of making it
unusable! Having worked with computers that do allow low level, I can
attest to the fact that the drive will not allow it for that reason.
Hope this helps the somewhat uninformed Mr. Coward and provides
everyone else a better understanding of hard drives.

What does "low level formatting" mean?

Actually the term "low level" is a bit of a misnomer. The low level
process first used years ago in MFM hard drives bears little
resemblance to what we now call a "low level format" for today's ATA
(IDE) drives. A better name for today's low level formatting utility is
intermediate- or mid-level formatting. This is sometimes referred to as
the "initialize" or "re-initialize" process. The basic purpose of a
mid-level format is to erase everything currently on the drive.

Note: The Zero Fill option runs more quickly and removes data just as
Low Level Format

The first step in preparing a drive to store information after
physical installation is complete. The process sets up the handshake
between the drive and the controller. Actual "Low Level Format"
procedures are incorporated with SCSI type drives but not ATA/IDE
drives as a "Low Level Format" has already been performed at the
factory on these drives. A "mid-level format or Zero Fill" procedure
may be performed on IDE drives to ensure a complete removal of any
stored data.

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