Formatting a hard drive is a very simple and common task. With it we can quickly erase all the data on a hard drive so that we have all its available space again. Also, during the process, we can even change the file system. However, in addition to normal formatting, which we can easily do from Windows, there is a new level of formatting that allows us to perform a much more complete and exhaustive erase of the hard drive. This is what is known as Low Level Format, or low level format .
As we will already know, formatting a hard disk does not erase the data stored on the disk, but rather deletes the file system and marks all its space as “available” while waiting for other data to take its place. In this way, using specific software, this data could be recovered with relative ease.
What is low level formatting
Unlike normal formatting, which only erases the file system, low-level formatting does what it does is erase each and every one of the sectors of the hard disk surface. In this way, the data that was saved on the hard disk cannot be recovered, since all the sectors of the disk have been emptied during the process, filling all the sectors of the disk with “0”.
This type of formatting, in addition, not only erases the data and makes it impossible (or very complicated) to recover, but it can also help us to solve problems on the hard disk, for example, sectors that have been damaged or corrupt.
Low-level formatting in the past was equivalent to leaving the hard drive as fresh from the factory . However, this technique could only be performed by the most advanced manufacturers or technicians. A user can’t LLF a hard drive like that just because. But there are techniques equivalent to low-level formatting that will allow us to fill all the sectors of the hard disk with “0” and erase the data to leave the disk as fresh from the factory.
And the most popular program for it is HDD Low Level Format.
HDD Low Level Format Features
HDD Low Level Format is a free program (although with limitations) that will allow us to clean all sectors of a hard disk and fill in its information with “0” and other random data. In this way, by means of a very simple interface and a process free of risks and complications, we are going to be able to leave our hard drive as similar as it has just left the factory.
This program is compatible with practically all hard drives that we can find on the market. In addition to working smoothly with all brands, it supports all types of connections, such as IDE, SATA, SAS, SCSI and M.2. It works with normal hard drives and solid state drives (SSD), although due to the large number of writes that this program performs on the drive, it is not recommended to use it on the latter. It can be used on internal and external hard drives, as well as USB sticks and SD cards.
This program can be used for free, although with a speed limitation of 50 MB / s (which is equivalent to formatting 180 GB every hour). If we pay $ 3.30, we can remove this speed limitation and format the drives at full speed.
How to format a hard disk with HDD Low Level Format
When opening the program, the first thing we will see will be a window like the following.
In it, as we will see, all the hard drives and all the storage units that we have connected to the computer will appear. So, the only thing left for us to do is select the disk that we want to format. We must be sure to choose the corresponding disk and not make mistakes. If we make a mistake when selecting the disk, we will be losing all the data.
When we have the unit selected, we can see a new window, with 3 tabs, like the following. In the first tab we will be able to see a summary of the technical data of the unit. Useful to make sure we have chosen the correct unit.
The “SMART” tab allows us to obtain SMART data from our hard drive, which allows us to know, among other things, its state of health. If we are selecting USB memory or SD cards, since we do not have SMART, we will not be able to know your state of health.
And thirdly, the tab that interests us: Low Level Format . This is where we are going to launch the formatting process from. The only thing that we can highlight in this window is the “quick wipe” box that allows us to quickly format the hard drive, deleting only the MBR, but not overwriting the data. If we leave this box unchecked, then it is when we will perform low level formatting.
We click on ” Format this device ” and the formatting process will begin. This process can take a long time. Even several hours. It depends on the total size of the hard disk and the speed. During the process, all partitions will be erased and the data stored on the hard disk will be destroyed.
We wait for the process to finish and ready. When it reaches 100% we will already have our hard drive formatted. Of course, we remember that during the process a complete erase of the entire disk is carried out, including the partition table. Therefore, before we can use this disk again, we will have to create a new partition table (MBR or GPT), and format at least one complete or partial partition.
What to do after low-level formatting
Once the formatting process is finished, before we can use the hard disk, we have to format it. We can do this from Windows itself, since, when connecting the unit, it will show us a message like the following that will allow us to format the unit completely.
In addition, we can also resort to other programs, such as MiniTool Partition Wizard , which will allow us to easily format the drive that we just made the LLF.
The case is to format the drive that we just formatted. After doing so, we will already have all the space of it available and we can start saving our data in it without problems.
We can download this program for free from the following link . We can choose if we want to download an installable version of the program or if we prefer a portable version. This second we can use without installing and always carry with us on a USB memory.