Low-Level Formatting – – a three-word phrase that you must have heard from those geeks, but might not be able to understand what it means. Well, if your curiosity is piqued now, we’ll be discussing what, when, why, and how of Low-Level Formatting? Keep reading!
What Is Low-Level Formatting?
Several users might not know this, but formatting a hard drive has many levels. Most of us are only familiar with one type of hard disk formatting, which we use to erase all the data from the storage. However, there are a few lesser-known format options, including Low-Level Format which we will be talking about in this article!
Low-Level Formatting (aka physical formatting) is a hard disk operation that is used to prepare a hard drive by creating the actual sectors, tracks, cylinders, and control structures required for reading and writing data on the drive. One of the common applications of low-level formatting includes erasing all the data from the hard drive, making recovery almost impossible. The whole process is executed in two levels: Formatting the HDD > Packing up the storage spaces with Zero Value (aka a Zero-filling hard drive).
When To Do Low-Level Formatting?
Well, the procedure is commonly conducted on MFM Drives of the past, because over time the thermal expansion problems associated with using stepper motor actuators occasionally move the tracks on the platers & when they are not in the position as expected, a potential set of errors start appearing. But this problem can be easily fixed by performing low-level format, as it completely rewrites the tracks in a fresh position that the stepper motor moves the heads to.
The current standard SATA is already preformatted from the factory. Therefore, you might not need to perform a low-level format on the latest devices.
DID YOU KNOW?
You should never attempt to perform low-level formatting on a DE/ATA or SCSI hard disk because there’s a high probability that you may end up damaging something. This is because the driver controller is programmed in a way to avoid any kind of LLF Attempts!
Why To Do HDD Low-Level Formatting?
The procedure sounds like something you might want to do before giving away your hard disk to someone else. Or, in case you are about to discard an old system that contained sensitive data, you should consider performing low-level formatting, so that not even professional data recovery software can restore your private files/folders and other data. Besides, if there are any suspected issues with data integrity, you should do Low-level formatting. The HDD Format process even helps if you want to remove malware that cannot be eradicated without destroying the boot sector.
Remember that performing low-level formatting will clear all your partitions, erase files/folders and other information stored on your disk (basically the entire disk surface). Therefore, if there are any crucial files that you can’t afford to lose, we suggest moving them to an external hard drive or backup them. Keep in mind, after you’ve performed HDD Low-Level Formatting, you will not be able to restore any of your files from the hard drive, even using a professional data restoration tool.
How To Perform HDD Low-Level Formatting On Windows 10/8/7?
We’ll be introducing Top 5 Hard Disk Low-Level Format Software for Windows 10, 8 & 7, but before we begin, here’s a super-warning for you:
Low-Level Formatting must be performed with extreme caution. Make sure you conduct the process against the RIGHT storage device. Any wrong step may lead to irrecoverable destruction of your data or device.
1. HDD LLF By HDDGURU
One of the most popular and highly recommended tools for performing Low-level hard disk drive formatting is HDD LLF. The small program securely follows the zero-filling hard drive process – – It includes re-initialization of the disk to factory settings by writing a zero byte to every location on the drive. Hence, all the partitions will be cleared, all the stored data will be erased completely and irreversibly.
How To Use This Best Low-Level Format Tool?
STEP 1 = Download & install the HDD Low-Level Format program on your computer.
STEP 2 = Attach HDD or USB Drive and launch HDD LLF program.
STEP 3 = Select the desired drive and hit the Continue button.
STEP 4 = You need to click the Yes button to move ahead!
STEP 5 = At this point, navigate to the Low-Level Format tab and select the Format This Device option to start the HDD formatting process!
As soon as the process gets completed, you’ve successfully low-level formatted your HDD. But that is certainly not enough! Wondering why? Keep reading!
IMPORTANT STEP – Run EaseUS Partition Master
By now we’ve understood the fact that the process of low-level formatting is related to zero-filling it so that no data can be recovered and everything is re-initialized. But the process hasn’t finished yet! Now you have to put the Low-level formatted drive to normal use. The HDD must undergo the following steps:
- Low-level format (which is already conducted in steps above)
- Making Partitions
- And High-level format!
All these steps are necessary before your system can store the data again!
DID YOU KNOW?
What is the difference between Low-Level Formatting & High-Level Formatting?
Well, the first process is conducted to wipe the hard drive completely & irreversibly and prepare it for storing files by making dedicated sectors and tracks on the drive. Whereas, the latter process is performed only on a hard disk that has sectors and tracks successfully formatted. This type of formatting is important because this is where the actual data like OS is written onto the drive sectors to further create file/system structures.
So, How EaseUS Partition Master Helps?
Use the professional utility to partition and format partitions on the low-level formatted HDD. To proceed with the method, make sure you create partitions. You can create either a FAT or NTFS partition, according to the physical disk capability.
STEP 1 = Download & install EaseUS Partition Master.
STEP 2 = From the main dashboard, right-click on the hard drive partition and hit the Format option!
STEP 3 = A small box will appear on your screen, where you need to fill the following fields. Refer to the screenshot below. Click OK once done!
STEP 4 = A warning message will appear on your screen, asking about your confirmation to permanently erase the target partition. Hit the OK button to proceed!
STEP 5 = Now you just need to click the Execute Operation option > Click Apply button to initiate the formatting process of the hard drive partition.
It’s a professional partition management utility that comes with numerous options for moving, resizing, formatting partitions according to the Hard disk efficiency!
If you don’t want to install a third-party HDD low level format tool on your system, you can use the built-in command line to execute low-level formatting. Simply follow the instructions below:
How To Use This Free Hard Disk Low-Level Format Tool?
STEP 1 = Launch Command Prompt & run in Administration mode.
STEP 2 = Type diskpart in the window & hit Enter!
As soon as you do that, you will be asked whether you want to open the utility, click yes and proceed.
STEP 3 = On the diskpart window, you need to type the command line: list disk & press Enter button to execute it.
STEP 4 = From the listed disks, you need to identify the disk you wish to format.
STEP 5 = To select the disk, simply type: select disk (add the disk number).
For example, we want to format Disk 1. So, the command line goes: select disk 1
STEP 6 = Now the main step: To completely clear all partitions & data by doing zero-filling (Low-level formatting) simply type: clean all
STEP 7 = Keep patience as the entire process can take a significant amount of time, depending on the data stored on your system.
STEP 8 = As soon as the hard disk low-level formatting is completed, you need to execute the following command lines:
create partition primary
(As soon as the new partition is created, you need to format it)
format fd=ntfs quick
(As soon as the new partition is formatted, you need to allocate a drive letter)
After assigning the drive letter, you can use EaseUS Partition Master for further assistance!
3. AOMEI Partition Assistant
If you are not familiar with Diskpart utility on Windows, fret not, because you can utilize another best low-level format tool to easily zero-fill the hard drive on Windows 10, 8, 7. Meet – AOMEI Partition Assistant – – It is a reliable disk partitioning and formatting software and allows you to have complete control over hard disks and partitions. Using the tool, you can easily create, merge, delete, copy, format partitions and do much more. To initiate the process of low-level formatting all you have to do is:
How To Use This HDD Low Level Format Tool?
STEP 1 = Download & install AOMEI Partition Assistant.
STEP 2 = From the main screen, navigate to the hard drive you wish to write zeroes to and right-click on it > select Wipe Hard Drive option from the context menu.
STEP 3 = From the new pop-up that appears on the screen, select option Fill sectors with Zero and hit the OK button.
STEP 4 = Now click the Apply button as referred to in the screenshot to initiate the pending operation – – Low-level formatting process on Windows 10, 8, 7.
That’s it as soon as the process gets completed, all the existing data will be wiped successfully.
4. Intel Memory and Storage Tool
This method is only for SATA devices compatible with Windows 7 and NVMe devices compatible with all operating systems. If you fulfill the prerequisites, you can follow this workaround to start low-level formatting HDD.
This method will only work, if you adhere to the following requirements:
- Have Intel SSDs only.
- No partitions are present on the drive.
- The drive you are about to format should not be the primary system drive.
- The following drivers should be installed on your PC: Microsoft Inbox NVMe driver or Intel® NVMe driver.
How To Use This HDD Low-Level Formatting Software?
STEP 1 = Download and install Intel Memory and Storage Tool on your system’s primary drive.
STEP 2 = Once successfully installed, run the utility and choose the drive you wish to low-level format.
STEP 3 = After the selection, navigate to the Select a Feature box and choose the option Secure Erase.
STEP 4 = Hit the Erase button to initiate the low-level formatting process!
STEP 5 = A warning message will appear on your screen, asking your confirmation to permanently delete everything stored on Intel SSD. Click the Yes button to proceed!
STEP 6 = Keep patience as the entire process can take a significant amount of time, depending on the storage size.
Once low-level formatting is done, you can take the help of professional partition management utilities like EaseUS Partition Master or AOMEI Partition Assistant to further make and format partitions successfully!
There’s another lesser-known hard disk low-level format tool – – Lowvel that helps users to securely erase data irreversibly (low-level formatting) from various data storage devices. The free application overwrites the data stored on the system with zeroes (known as zero-filling) to help you get rid of numerous issues.
How To Use This Low-Level Format Windows 10 Program?
STEP 1 = Download & install Lowvel software on your Windows system.
STEP 2 = From the main dashboard select the drive you wish to erase and hit the Start button. A quick window will appear on your screen, indicating information related to the selected device.
STEP 3 = Lowvel allows you to specify a sector range that you wish to delete.
STEP 4 = Hit the Erase button to start the data cleaning process. As soon as you click the option, the irreversible process of zero-filling all the sectors on the selected device is started.
You have the option to Cancel the process in between and simply return to the main menu or Stop the process to resume later!
Frequently Asked Questions:
Q1. Which is the best low-level format tool?
Undoubtedly HDD Low Level Format (LLF) is the best tool in the market. The nifty program will securely do zero-filling hard drive – – The process of re-initialization of the disk to factory settings by writing a zero byte to every location on the drive.
Q2. Which is the best free hard disk formatting tool?
EaseUS Partition Master comes with a free version for formatting hard disks. Alternatively, you can choose the Paragon Partition Manager (free) version to complete the task.
Q3. Is there a free HDD low-level format utility?
You can rely on Diskpart, the built-in Windows utility to format hard disks at no cost.
Q4. Is it bad to do low-level formatting on a hard disk?
No, as long as you know what you are doing while low-level formatting, no harm will be caused to your system. Besides, it is a useful way to get rid of plenty of hard disk issues!
- Disk Management Not Loading on Windows 10? Here’s the Fix!
- 6 Best Ways To Check Hard Drive Health On Windows 10
- How To Use Disk Speedup Tool To Improve Your PC’s Performance?