Alternative to "Slow" Formatting a Large HDD

Any ideas, thoughts - not necessary related to Hard Disk Sentinel.

Alternative to "Slow" Formatting a Large HDD

Postby Muad'Dib » 2018.11.14. 02:43

I used to always "slow format" (as opposed to doing a "quick format" on) my HDDs before using them. This started back in the day when even new drives had bad sectors that hadn't yet been marked as unusable (and slow formatting would often block these sectors from being used). Nowadays, this seems to be less of an issue, but old habits die hard, so I'm still more comfortable making sure that problem areas are blocked off before I start using the drive.

However, as drives get larger (4TB and more), this means that if I want to slow format the entire drive, I can't reboot my system until the job is done (which may be a couple of days, depending on the computer and the connection to the new HDD). So I've thought about two alternatives:

1) Slow format the drive in smaller (1 TB) chunks, then when all chunks are formatted this way, quick format the entire drive. This way, I have the option in between 1TB format jobs, to reboot my computer if necessary.

or...

2) Quick format the entire drive, then use HD Sentinel's Disk Surface test (one of the Destructive methods if there's no data on it, Read+WRITE+read or Disk Repair if there is data on the drive). Since I can pause and then resume the HD Sentinel tests, this would also allow me to reboot my computer if needed.

Do you see a problem with either of the above alternatives? Which would you suggest (or do you have another suggestion)?
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Re: Alternative to "Slow" Formatting a Large HDD

Postby hdsentinel » 2018.11.15. 11:27

Yes, I completely understand and agree that old habits die hard - but things NEED to change ;)

There are BIG problems with fomat (the "slow format") apart from what you wrote (that you could not pause/resume):

1) Yes, what you wrote is true:
> and slow formatting would often block these sectors from being used
but format does it in the FILE SYSTEM level. It means that it does not actually force the hard disk to reallocate bad sectors (replace them with spare sectors) so it does not really fix the problems, but attempts to hide it.

This approach is wrong, because the solution is not permanent and causing more and more troubles and confusion:
- this decreases the amount of usable free space (as these bad sectors remain reserved)
- when you ever need to re-partition / re-format (consider a clean reinstallation) these sectors will be re-used AGAIN, risking data corruption/data loss
- if you ever attempt to clone/mirror the disk drive, the cloning may fail completely (due to bad sectors) or a cloning program may happily clone the bad sectors (!) so you'll see bad sectors reported by chkdsk on a brand new hard disk drive (even if the new hard disk is physically perfect, 100% health displayed in Hard Disk Sentinel).

2) the format is simply not sensitive enough: it does not show possible problems, health degradations, performance issues (slowness) and may not report possible retries. All of these SHOULD be detected and displayed - as this would help to determine (for example) if the disk drive is partially failing (for example there may be problems at the end of the disk surface).

Because of the above, personally I'd *never* use slow format as this is simply useless.
I'd much more recommend the testing (even on new hard disk) as displayed in Support -> Frequently Asked Questions page:
https://www.hdsentinel.com/faq.php#tests

If you want to save time (as the above recommends the Reinitialize disk surface in addition to others) then I'd recommend to use ONLY the Disk menu -> Surface test -> Write test to perform a complete, single pass overwrite (instead of the slow format) or if you prefer to have a read-test, then the Disk menu -> Surface test -> Read test.
Disk Repair is best to be used on _already_ fomatted disks, where data stored, but now if I'm correct, we speak about new (or used) disks which should be formatted first.

So I'd use the Disk menu -> Surface test functions, as these solves all of the above mentioned problems: sensitive enough to detect/reveal problems and the write type tests designed to really FIX them.
The "Weak sectors" page ( https://www.hdsentinel.com/hard_disk_case_weak_sectors.php ) desribes the situation with logical / physical problems and how they reported by chkdsk (or generally by the format - which records bad sectors on file system level).

Then, when we confirmed the real physical disk status and verified the surface (and even stabilized if required) then a quick format is perfect way to make the disk drive initialised.

Personally I always do these:
1) Disk -> Short self test
2) Disk -> Extended self test
3) Disk -> Surface test -> Read test
4) Disk -> Surface test -> Reinitialize disk surface
and then a quick format - even on new hard disks - before using.
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