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Low Level Formating

By schlestak ·
I have a user who asked me about low level formating his hard drive. I haven't worked with that utility for a long time. My ? is, where might I find a utility to do this. Or How might I create a floppy disk to have this option.

Thanks You,


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Windows 98 Startup Disk

by alee100 In reply to Low Level Formating

I have used the fdisk application on a Windows 98 startup disk to format floppy drives.
Hope that helps.

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low level formating

by hannibb In reply to Windows 98 Startup Disk

Most times low level formating is done at the factory, it is not recomended that users do low level format since it might damage a hard drive I had a computer that came with a CD-ROM it included an utility for low level formating but warned 'do it at your own risk"

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FDISK is not a low level formatter.

by Joe Hardstaff In reply to Low Level Formating

There are usually two possible ways for low level formatting a hard disk drive. If your BIOS supports it there may be a low level formatting option in there, I would not recommend using it though, it can cause some problems (ie stuff the HDD) Go to your drive manufacturers web site, there should be suitable tools there. this page explains all about low level formatting, and provides a link to a low level formatting tool.

Cheers - Joe

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Low level format

by drvms In reply to FDISK is not a low level ...

Fdisk is not a low level formater If your HDD developed any bad sectors dont try fdisk
or format frequently If your HDD is 10gb or above U can make partions to store data more safely and every manufacturer provides their disk manager
try fdisk after thinking 2 times
Ok Thank U

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low level format

by tnguyen In reply to Low level format

I agree Fdisk is not a low level format utility. If your question is regarding to IDE hard drive then use CMOS built-in to low level format your drive. However, IDE is not recommended to be low level format (should check with the IDE hard drive vendor). If your question is about SCSI or MFM or RLL drive. I do not think MFM and RLL is in storage technology any more. Anyway, Lowlevel format of these drive will based on the SCSi controller or you mut know the DEBUG command and issue certian I/O address such as g:c500 for a MFM and g:c800 for a SCSI. Again, LowLevel of IDE is not recommended cuz IDE do not have Multi Level seeking of the drive themself.

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Low Level Detail

by wmusil In reply to FDISK is not a low level ...

Not sure if anybody discussed this in detail. Low level formatting is always done at a bios level from the controller. With SCSI controllers, it is usually an option available in the SCSI bios utilities. With IDE controllers, the program is residentin the bios. It is different for different chip sets but based 'loosely' on the original western digital low level utility (don't kill me here, WD ESDI is as far back as I go). To access this program, you need debug.exe on a boot floppy. You need torun debug with the proper memory address and offset of the IDE bios's low level format utility ('debug g=E800:0' BOGUS example). The manufacturer may or may not tell you but they know. Some still offer a software program on disk or CD to access the bios for you, but it is the same function. The likelihood is that if you need to low level, your drive, it is toast. You may need to low level the drive in the following circumstances. 1. There is damage in the boot sector, and the drive's sector re-mapping cannot handle it. 2. The bad-block table for sector re-mapping has filled up. 3. Drive was originally low-leveled with a non-standard CHS translation and cannot be accessed with a standard controller.
All of these usually mean that the disk is bad. Most drives have intelligent error recovery 'on-drive' and work properly for their entire life. Custom translation just doesn't happen anymore (was commonplace on older ESDI and SCSI systems).

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DEBUG script

by comptech3 In reply to Low Level Detail

I agree with wmusil on this. However, there is a DEBUG script that can be run that will remove the partition structure without damaging the actual low-level formatting of an IDE hard drive. The script can be found at :

I find it hand to remove an NTFS partition from a drive without resorting to the NT boot floppies or other utilities out there. It is also handy to kill boot sector viruses that may be suspected to exist (be sure your boot floppy is write-protected). But be advised that any data on the drive WILL BE LOST!!!

I had customers call me for a hard drive replacement because they would get an error while formatting. I would have them run this script and Shazam!!!! The drive would accept a full format.

I would never subscribe to low level formatting on an IDE hard drive. I am also of the opinion that if the situation calls for fooling with a low-level format, the drive is most likely beyond hope anyway.

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by gardbc In reply to DEBUG script

Fdisk /mbr
will rewrite and erase the drive.
To remove an NTFS partition, simply remove "non dos partitions", using fdisk.....

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Low Level Formating

by tdad5515 In reply to Low Level Detail

I have found several hard drive manufacturers that have a low level format utility on their web page. EZ-Drive is the manufacturer and they customize the utility for the mfr of the hard drive.

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Low Level Formatting

by arent In reply to Low Level Formating

Low-level format:
The sector identification on a disk that the drive uses to locate sectors for reading and writing.
Today's IDE and SCSI hard disks are low-level formatted at the factory.

From an email:
Dear Maxtor Customer:

You are correct in that formatting the drive doesn't touch the MBR which is
where ez bios is residing. What you want to do is download and run powermax
off of our website. In powermax there is something called a low level format
which will definately wipe off ez bios.
As far as I know, each manufacturer of HD's has programs available to low-level format their HD's, all about the same.
The program writes 0's and 1's to the whole disk, including the Master Boot Record.
The disk becomes "Factory Fresh".
After this, the disk has to be Partitioned (FDisk) and formatted (Fat 32 for example).

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