04 Dec

What Is the Difference between High Level and Low Level Formatting?

When you want to format a hard drive, for instance, to install a new operating system or dispose of the computer the drive is in, there are two different methods used. It is important to understand the differences between the two in order to ensure your data is not recoverable.

High Level Formatting

High level formatting can be performed on a hard disk only after the sectors and tracks have been formatted using a low level format (see below). This type of formatting is where actual data, like the operating system is written onto the drive sectors to create file and system structures so you can use the drive to install other applications and store data and files.

For instance, if you have an existing drive, but you want to format it before upgrading the operating system, you would run a high level format. The format operation overwrites the existing data structures on the drive and creates new ones, like a new boot sector. Another situation where high level formatting is used, is whenever you create new partitions on a hard drive and want to format them in order to be able to use them to install apps or store data.
It is worth noting a high level format does not fully erase pre-existing data from the drive. The data is simply hidden on the drive since the paths to access the data were erased. The data is often recoverable using specialized recovery programs, such as, those used by our data recovery service in Toronto.

Low Level Formatting

Low level formatting is used to initiate a hard drive and prepare it for data by creating the actual sectors and tracks on the drive, as well as the control structures needed to read and write data on the drive. A low level format is often completed by the manufacturer of the hard drive, for instance, in cases where you purchased new hard drives to install into existing computers. In some cases, however, you may need to run a low level format after installing the drive into the computer before you can install an actual operating system.

After a drive has a low level format ran on it the first time, this is the only time the drive will actually contain no data. Later, if a low level format is ran on a drive with existing it, it is erased and lost forever. Basically, a low level format “resets” the drive to its original “out-of-the-box” state.

Low level formatting could require specialized software and does take a much longer time to complete. It is for this reason, it is recommended to have a professional data recovery and formatting business perform any low level formatting you need, as a data check is also performed afterwards to ensure there is no remaining data that could be recovered. For assistance with low level formatting and data recovery services, please feel free to contact Taking It Mobile at 905.597.6223 today!

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