Disk Formatting

What Does Disk Formatting Mean?

Disk formatting is the configuring process of a data storage media such as a hard disk drive, floppy disk or flash drive for initial usage. Any existing files on the drive would be erased with disk formatting. Disk formatting is usually done before initial installation or before installation of a new operating system. Disk formatting is also done if there is a requirement for additional storage in the computer.

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Techopedia Explains Disk Formatting

Disk formatting can be performed on both magnetic platter hard drives and solid-state drives. The formatting comprises low-level formatting, partitioning and high-level formatting. Low-level formatting aids in preparing the physical structure on the storage media. The partitioning process involves the division of the hard drive into logical volumes for data storage. High-level formatting helps in creating the file system format within the logical volume or within the disk partition. Disk formatting is usually done with the help of a disk formatting utility.

While preparing the hard drive for initial use, disk formatting checks for errors in the drive. It can scan and repair bad sectors. Another benefit associated with disk formatting is its capability to erase bad applications and remove sophisticated viruses.

Disk formatting is an action which must be done with caution. As it deletes data and removes programs installed, backup of the necessary data or applications are required. Disk formatting takes time. Frequent disk formatting can gradually decrease the life of a hard drive.

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Margaret Rouse
Technology Expert

Margaret is an award-winning technical writer and teacher known for her ability to explain complex technical subjects to a non-technical business audience. Over the past twenty years, her IT definitions have been published by Que in an encyclopedia of technology terms and cited in articles by the New York Times, Time Magazine, USA Today, ZDNet, PC Magazine, and Discovery Magazine. She joined Techopedia in 2011. Margaret's idea of a fun day is helping IT and business professionals learn to speak each other’s highly specialized languages.