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Old 20th August 2003   #1
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How often to reformat hard drive

How often should I reformatting my hard drive? Also since its done so frequently what is the advantage of using a larger hard drive? For example a 40, 60, 80, 120 GB size. If its done this frequently wouldn't it take longer to scandisk, defrag or reinstall windows?

There seems to be more of an emphasis on reformatting than recovery.

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Old 20th August 2003   #2
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I always believed it was better to recover, than reformat. There's ALWAYS a way to recover a drive/data, unless it's an actual hardware fault (hard drive dies).
There's no hard and fast rule for reformatting schedules. I have some machines that haven't been formatted in 7 years or more, and others that seem to need it about every 6 months, usually because it's easier to reformat, than it is to fix all the wrong things, and ALWAYS because of user errors.
Those that simply use their machine, with the software they want, can go much longer between formats, than those that install, uninstall, and constantly try to mess with stuff better left alone.
Only you can decide when it's time to reformat, although I find that a repair install, even on Windows 9x machines, is usually enough to recover the speed and reliability, at least temporarily.
Windows 9x machines require a fresh start more often than NT based ones, and usually from a major hardware change, or user abuse.

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Old 20th August 2003   #3
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For example a 40, 60, 80, 120 GB size. If its done this frequently wouldn't it take longer to scandisk, defrag or reinstall windows?

If those drives are left in one partition YES it WILL take forever to scandisk or defrag. The larger the partition the longer it will take. And the more chance of DATA loss.

I myself do not keep any partitons over 20gig. This also help to keep various software and BACKPUPS separated from the main OS drive.

As to reformat. This is another good reason for having more than one partition. OS on the first and everything else on others. With the OS being not more than 6-7gig.

I also go for an overtop re-install or Revovery before a format.

This HD I am on right now has had 98, 98SP1, 98SE ( SE with an overtop repair ) and then to XP PRO and has not been reformated yet.

All ovetop installs.


Last edited by BillyBob; 20th August 2003 at 18:36.
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Old 23rd August 2003   #4
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Hi all.

There is never any reason to reformat a hard drive other than to clear the FAT. In that case you can do a "format /q" (for quick format). If there are any problems with a hard disk, a format will not do anything to help.

If there are problems with the software that is contained on the hard disk then a format (and quick format) will just clear the FAT so you can reinstall.

If you have no indications from Windows that it is not getting the data correctly from the hard disk then the hard disk is just fine. If you are getting errors reported then it is best to back up all your data, download a low-level format from the manufacturer and do a low-level format and then a regular format and reinstall. If that doesn't clear it up you need a new hard disk. At that point, don't even think about, just go buy another hard disk.

When a hard disk has a lot of hours on it (30-50,000) some head wear will move the heads off the current tracks so the heads can't see the data fully. You'll get errors. A low-level format will realign the heads with the surface of the disk and you're good to go. The most common error is for a piece of dust to float around on the surface of the disk. One day a particular track will have an error and the piece of dust will move and another track will report an error where it was good the day before. Do a low-level and try it then go get another hard disk.

I usually only clear the FAT for an install of a new operating system or if the thing gets messy from too many installs and uninstalls. About once a year I guess. I seldom if ever actually format the entire hard drive unless it is new or I changed motherboards (hence new IDE circuitry). Those two things make it necessary.

My main drive is 80Gigs, no partitions. Saves me a lot of time. I backup about 4-5Gigs of data, all automatically. I defrag about every six months, no more than a year. No need to defrag more than that unless you're reading and writing a great many files constantly.

How often do you reformat and why are you reformatting. Maybe we can offer some suggestions to reduce the number. Also, if you're using XP, maybe you can make more use of the restore points when installing software. That may help keep the system more intact.

Last edited by giles; 23rd August 2003 at 02:03.
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