Formatting – What is it?

15 08 2007

Low level formatting
Formatting is the first step in making the drive ready for data storage and retrieval. At this stage, the drive is being physically divided into tracks and sectors. Low-level formatting stays unchanged for the entire life of the drive unless the drive is re-formatted.

Partitioning
Partitioning divides the drive into logical drives (C:, D:, E:, etc.). Every drive has at leas one “primary partition” (C:) and may have many extended partitions. The primary partition contains drive booting information in the Master Boot Record (MBR) and also keeps a record of all other partitions. A partition is usually made using the FDISK.exe program.

High-level formatting
High-level formatting prepares drive partitions for the operating system by creating a root directory, from which all other subdirectories could be created, and creating a File Allocation Table (FAT), which keeps track of all information on the disks and all the relationships between different pieces of information. A loss of the FAT translates into loss of data, since the system will not be able to attribute data to specific files even if the data themselves are intact. This operation is usually done using the FORMAT.exe program.

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