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How to format hard disk without OS?

by vineet.garg / May 6, 2008 9:26 PM PDT

I own Dell D510 latitude notebook. My windows got corrupted recently and is not getting installed again. I tried to format my all partitions with windows partition manager while installation but it failed to format. I dont know if its the problem with windows xp installation or with my hard disk. So to be sure about it i want to format my hard disk(all partition) with any file system(preferably NTFS).

Does anybody know about any third party software or any other method to format and partition my hard disk??

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Re: formatting
by Kees Bakker / May 6, 2008 9:40 PM PDT

It might be helpful to tell why it failed. It could very well be a hardware issue and then another formatting program will fail just as well.

You can try:
- another xp disc (not really difficult, I assume, to find one with your friends or family)
- download a Windows 98 or ME boot diskette (that is, the program to make one) and use its fdisk and format, FAT32 only)
- download a Linux distro and burn that to a bootable CD

Hope this helps.


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I tried
by vineet.garg / May 6, 2008 10:12 PM PDT
In reply to: Re: formatting

I tried with another XP installation cd but it didnt get it through. I installed knoppix(live linux distro) and accessed all my partition without any error.
I dont know what is the problem. Thats why i want to use third party partition manager to be sure if it is hardware problem or windows installation problem.

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Re: format problems
by Kees Bakker / May 6, 2008 10:19 PM PDT
In reply to: I tried

You still didn't tell the problem with the Windows XP installation program. That makes it difficult to comment.
There might be a difference between 'accessing' and 'formatting'.

Other things to try then:
- A partition manager, like Partition Magic. There are many shareware equivalents.
- Use killdisk or dban (free downloads) to totally erase the hard disk. Then Windows XP setup should surely work.


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Let me explain my situation from very start!
by vineet.garg / May 7, 2008 1:18 AM PDT
In reply to: Re: format problems

I had windows xp SP2 installed on my C: drive. It was working fine but suddenly XP refused to boot up. Windows showed booting screen and after sometime gets restarted and starts to boot again. Then i decided to reinstall windows XP. I booted up my laptop with windows xp cd. I chose to format with NTFS format(not quick one) but nothing happened for 30 min(i.e. it didnt get beyond 0 per). Then i restarted windows installation. This time i chose to format with NTFS quick option. It formatted the partition and started to copy files. After copying it rebooted the laptop but showed error that C:/windows/file_name(dont remember the filename but it started with n letter). I tried with another CD but same error occurred. So i thought it might be hard disk problem. Then i used knoppix to access my hard disk and to recover data and i recovered the data without any error.

I cant use Partition Magic as i dont have any OS installed on laptop.
I dont use want to erase partitions I want to format them with NTFS file system too.

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From the very start > Link
by billzhills / May 7, 2008 6:52 AM PDT

This will allow you to test the HDD.

You may also need to Zero the drive
due to the error message on install.

With the drive zeroed on install create
the primary partition for Windows. The
balance of the drive can be partitioned in
Disk Management.


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Thanks for the link
by vineet.garg / May 7, 2008 4:20 PM PDT

This project(UBCD) seems to be very helpful. I will try it and will let you know the results.
Thanks again for this link.

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(NT) Welcome
by billzhills / May 7, 2008 10:55 PM PDT
In reply to: Thanks for the link
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Results of the HD diagnosis
by vineet.garg / May 8, 2008 5:33 PM PDT
In reply to: Welcome

I performed the HD diagnosis from UBCD. There is some problem in my hard disk!!

Thanks alot for the help(and all responses).


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It's Not Possible To Format The Windows Partition While...
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / May 7, 2008 12:48 AM PDT
In reply to: I tried

...Windows is installed on it.. By your comments, that's what you're trying to do.. Yes? or No?

The Windows XP CD or a Windows 98 boot disc will allow you to format the drive but you must place the disc in the CD or floppy drive, then restart the computer.. Once it restarts, press any key to boot from the CD or disc, then you can format the drive where Windows is installed.. IT WILL ELIMINATE WINDOWS and all other files from that drive.. So be sure of what you're trying to do... Backup all important files and documents before doing so.

So if you're trying to add partitions to your hard drive while Windows is installed, use a third party program such as Partition Magic.. It will allow you to set up a separate partition while Windows is still installed, then you can format the new partiton from withing the Disc Manager of Windows.

Hope this helps.


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I want to format HD without any OS

I know you cant format HD with OS installed on it thats why i want to format it without any OS. I dont have any data on HD now as I have recovered all the data already

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Both Partition Magic and a Windows 98 ...
by Kees Bakker / May 7, 2008 4:53 AM PDT

boot diskette come with their own OS. Like Knoppix and the Windows XP CD. You need something like an OS to access the disk. But it can't be an OS running from the partition you want to format.


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Why Format If No OS Is Going On?
by Grif Thomas Forum moderator / May 7, 2008 8:02 AM PDT

If you're trying to wipe the drive of all information and partitions so it can't be recovered, then there are bootdiscs such as Dban and Killdisk that will do a much better job than a format..



There's no need to format a drive if you're not going to put something on it. If you're going to put something on it, then the OS disc should format it correctly.

Hope this helps.


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Hi, I have the same problem :(
by ivaylodyankov / July 3, 2010 12:43 AM PDT

I just started the PC and there was a message, that one file from SYSTEM 32 is damaged. I had no choice and I had to reinstall my Windows. But when I tryed to format the 'C' partition it displays an error. I tryed with Linux also, but the result was the same. Please let me know if you had find a solution.
Thanks, Ivaylo Happy

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What error?
by R. Proffitt Forum moderator / July 3, 2010 2:22 AM PDT

And formatting the drive in Linux giving an error (which one?) can be a bad sign such as a failing hard drive.

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About Vineet.garg's situation.
by LucJPatenaude / July 4, 2010 2:43 PM PDT

Two(2) years ago, our friend rather, replaced it's Hard-Drive and Re-installed without any problems at all or, bought a much newer machine ever since.

Probably using Win.7 as I write this all down.

So, I suggest that you execute one of those two(2) suggestions I just wrote above. And, please, lose and totally forget that damned XP O.S. O.K? Thank-you in advance for doing just so.

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