Do You Know What is Formatting?

This article gives the information related to “Formatting”. Formatting is a process of preparing the hard disk for a particular operating system. Formatting a hard disk puts special magnetic marks of tracks and sectors, on the hard disk surface. Sectors and tracks does not exist on a hard disk until and unless it has been formatted. When a new hard disk is bought it just likes a plain sheet of paper with no information. Formatting a new disk is like adding lines on blank paper so that you will be able to properly write on it. Formatting the disk, means adds the tracks and sector information to the disk surface these are magnetic information written on the disk media.

            There are two types of formatting:

  1. Low level formatting (physical formatting)
  2. High level formatting (Logical formatting)

Do You know PC Formatting?

Low level formatting (physical formatting)

Floppy disk requires only formatting where as hard disk requires two formatting (Low level and High level) Low level formatting does the job of magnetically dividing the disk into tracks and sector. It is also known as physical formatting or true formatting. After low level formatting next step to represent the HDD for partitioning. Partitioning was basically done for two purposes:

      To have many operating system on the same drive.

      To have more than one logical drive.

When the disk is partitioned the partition program FDISK writes a MBR or Master Boot Record in the first physical sector.

Partition program FDISK can be used for the following:

  1. Creating a primary DOS partition.
  2. Creating a extended DOS partition.
  3. Creating logical drives in extended partition.
  4. Setting a partition of active
  5. Display partitions
  6. Display partition data.


  1. Using the “formatting/initialize hard disk” facility provided in most of the BIOS ROMs in CMOS setup program.
  2. Using low level format program stored in hard disk controller’s ROM. This was activated by DOS DEBUG program.
  3. Using a low level format program as the on Track’s disk manager.
  4. Using IBM advanced diagnostic software available in the market.


      Dividing the disk surface into tracks and sector.

      Establishing interleave factor.

      Marking identification information on each track and sector.

      Marking defective sectors.

PC Disk Formatting


After a the low level formatting and partitioning the final step for preparing the hard disk drive for use is to high level formatting. During the high level format the FORMAT program verifies all the tracks and sector in that particular partition. Other than this the high level formatting performs the following function:

      Scan the disk for the tracks and sectors marked bad during the low level format.

      After scanning the entire disk it returns to first sector of the partition and write a volume Boot Record

      The write on next sector File Allocation Table (FAT)

      Next the format the program writes a blank root directory on the sector.

      If the parameter is specified them copy the system files (IBMBIO COM, IBMDOS.COM   or IO.SYS and MSDOS.SYS) and COMMAND.COM files on HDD.

         Then it copy another hidden system file called DBSPACE.BIN to the root directory.

This is what about the formatting.


About Sourabh Bhunje

Sourabh Bhunje, B.E. IT from Pune University. Currently Working at Techliebe. Professional Skills: Programming - Software & Mobile, Web & Graphic Design, Localization, Content Writing, Sub-Titling etc.

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