How long does it take to format a hard drive?

Just bought a 1Tb HDD to use as a second drive on my Dell Inspiron 660. I insyalled it yesterday AM and selected "Full format." Disk Management says it's still formatting. How damned long will this take?

Post was last edited on November 6, 2015 5:40 PM PST

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Could be hours.

I usually take the quick format as I charge by the hour. We can do a surface scan later.

The long format does a lot more work.

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I guess I'll continue to wait, then.

I'm replacing a 320 gig HDD that's just too small to use as a data drive. The data is now on an external HDD, but I really don't like external drives as long term storage...

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Oops. Now what happened?

After waiting and waiting, Disk Management still shows the disk as RAW. I assume I need to start over? If so, why?

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I'd just remove the partition, create again and quick format

Figure 2 minute job.

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RAW means it was overwritten

either by zeroes or random characters. So, what you were doing was a destructive scan instead of one checking for bad sectors. You can safely format it now using the simple method.

When someone wants to give away or retire an older drive, or sell an older computer with the drive left in it, they should run a destructive scan that first will zero the existing data and secondly come back and write random characters on the drive. This insures it's almost impossible for the next person with that computer to run data recovery on it and get your data back that was on it previously.

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Since this is a new Hdd,

I wouldn't think a full format is necessary. Quick format should do.

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Alas, it won't let me quick format the disk.

I'm pressing on...

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It won't let you quick format but won't tell why?

Generally couple thing need to be done before format. One is to create a partition table, then create partition/s, then format.

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I had to remove the old partiton to start over.

In RARE cases I have to boot up my GPARTED CD (see google) to remove the partitions.

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rob's suggestion or.... software from the drive manufacturer and reset the drive with it. I would especially do that if you have a 4K Advanced Format type drive. If using GParted in Linux have it align to the first megabyte to insure the Advanced Format drive is setup properly.

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An update; this is not good?

As of this moment, here's what I see in Disk Management: 931.51 GB, Unallocated, with a dialog asking me to (again) initialize the disk. When I do so using MBR initialization, I get the following: 931.51 GB, RAW, (healthy) (Primary). A quick format fails with the error message, "The format did not complete successfully." I decided to download WD's Data Lifeguard diagnostic program. Running it, the drive passes the SMART check, Quick Test and Extended Tests. However, when I run the Write Zeros applet, it fails with the error message "Write Zeros Error," each time referencing a different sector on the hard drive. I am at a total loss, as I've installed many a hard drive over the years and have never seen this before.

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In that case ...

I'd simply return it as defective.


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I feared you'd say that!

That was where I thought this would end. But before I do, would swapping the data cable be a safe thing to try - just to make sure?

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Re: swapping cable

Wouldn't harm, of course. But I don't expect much.


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I have tried using disk management in windors,

I found it to be very confusing...and I am no newbie in this game. So I use "partmagic or gpart" for my Hdd. work. I found Hdd. works best when they have the SAME partition table as the one use in the OS. Otherwise windows might not see part or all of it, even though disk management sees it. I am not saying this is the problem. I am just sharing a little of what I have experience.

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There are plenty of tutorials on all

But for GPARTED all I ever did was to clean off the failed partitions. I would delete them all, do the commit/OK and then reboot to Windows to go back to disk management to create and quick format.

Your methods seem to be other. In fact one is quite odd. That one about MBR. Next did that in the past decade. Why do that?

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Yes did happen to me.

The OS have msdos/mbr partition table and the other Hdd. have gpt. with 2 partitions and all windows can see was the first 1GB. If I want to do any change at all, I had to delete the whole gpt drive and start over.
Something else I have learn. If I have a primary partition and a extended partition on the first drive then I cannot have another primary partition after the extended partition for windows but for linux ok. Weird, I know but that's what I have encounter.

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that should have been first 1TB...not 1GB.

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Get a replacement

Using the defaults in Disk Management, it took about 5 minutes to prepare my 1.5T and 2T HDDs.
I would recommend you first contact the retailer to see about getting a replacement. If the retailer is reputable, it should not cost you anything but your time.
Since you mentioned using WD's disk checker, I presume you have one of their drives. So, as an alternative, contact them - they were very helpful when I had a WD drive fail. Be aware, though, you will have to send back the one you have before they will send a replacement.

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I'll try GPARTED,...

... but I've never used it. If that fails, back to WD goes the drive!

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try gdisk in linux also

The only "MBR" message I see is when someone is trying to use a GPT setup disk with older standard MBR instead of the protective MBR that is used with GPT type disk.

Google GPT, GUID Partitioned Disc, Rod Smith, gdisk,

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Thanks to all who posted here!

Final update: GPARTED failed, as did installing a new data cable. I returned the drive, took the new one home and ran GPARTED just to make sure I didn't have a PC problem. Rebooted out of that, Windows 10 saw the new drive in Disk Management, ran a quick format and all's well under God's heaven! Let's call this one closed, shall we?

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