I bought a new hard drive; should I full format it or is it enough to do a quick format? My hard drive is brand new, so is there any reason why I should wait for hours to do a full-format?
A quick format resets the partition tables in a HDD making all the available space writable again. It is like deleting just the beginning and end of sound tracks on a DVD without changing/deleting anything in between. All the actual data remains intact inside your hard disk when you do a quick-format; it just removes the data-sheet that contains information about where files and folders are stored inside your HDD.
When you perform a full format, your hard drive checks its surface for bad sectors. The full-scan process marks, or labels, all bad sectors it finds; your HDD stores this information in allocation table so that the operating system knows not to write data on these sectors.
The question of what happens in a full-format is up for debate, but most people agree to the following points. Full format scans for bad sectors and it writes zeros to the whole drive. Writing zeros means all previous data on your HDD is erased.
If you want to erase data from an old HDD or if you are formatting an old drive in preparation to install new Windows, then using full-format option makes more sense. If you are selling or disposing your HDD and you want to make sure that all its data is erased, then you should use a good HDD erasing software instead of relying on Windows built-in full-format feature. You can find links to websites of such tools at the end of this post.
When it comes to formatting a brand new HDD, things get a bit confusing. Theoretically, you don’t need to full-format it; a quick one is all it needs; this is because our goal isn’t erasing data or scan for bad sectors. However, experts say that new HDD can have bad sectors too. A brand new hard-disk you pull out from a factory sealed box, can have bad-sectors. So if this is true, then we should full format new hard-drives too because they may contain few bad sectors.
I once bought a brand new HDD and it failed after one week. How can you make sure your brand new HDD have no bad sectors? To avoid any room for speculations and to be 100% sure that you are choosing the safer option, you should full-format your new HDD. The only drawback is that it takes more time. You shouldn’t mind waiting as this operation will ensure security of your data and stability of your PC.
Using a HDD that contains undetected bad sectors can result in data loss. Such HDD is not reliable as undetected bad sectors can damage the whole drive.