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Hard Drive Preparation Procedures

Updated on August 2, 2018
Patkay profile image

Patrick, a Computer Technician, is a dedicated writer who wishes to make the world better by informing individuals who seek more knowledge.

Hard Drive Preparation Procedures

Hard Disk Drive Formatting

In computers, data is stored permanently on a hard disk drive. A computer will have one or several hard disk drives depending on its design and use. We have internal and external hard drives. Internal hard drives are fixed inside the system unit while the external ones are portable and are used akin to a flash drive. A hard disk drive, before it is ready for use especially with an operating system, needs to be taken through a number of preparation procedures. Once these processes are completed, the disk will then be usable and ready to accept your data. The processes are:-

  1. Low-level formatting
  2. Partitioning
  3. High-level formatting
  4. Installation of the Operating System
  5. Application programs installation.

A Hard Disk Drive in its ESD Pouch

An Internal Hard Disk Drive
An Internal Hard Disk Drive | Source

Hard Disk Drive Preparation Processes

Low-level formatting


High-level formatting

Installation of the Operating System

Application programs installation.

Hard Drive Preparation Procedures

1. Low-level Formatting

Low-level formatting is not for the end user. It is done in the factory during drive manufacturing. Low-Level Formatting refers to the true process of disk formatting operation because it builds the physical format of the disk by assigning the location where the data is kept on the disk. During this process positions of tracks and sectors are outlined permanently using magnetism as the ink.

2. Hard Disk Drive Partitioning

Disk partitioning is one of the first things to be done when configuring a new hard disk. It is the act of dividing a hard disk drive into logical storage volumes or units. A hard disk must be partitioned, meaning that you must create a minimum of one partition to be able to use it. When you partition a drive, you enable it to hold several operating systems, what is called multi-boot.

When you are creating more partitions, their sizes are defined by the existing disk size, intended use, and your needs. For example, you can subdivide an 80GB hard disk into two equal partitions of 40GB. The first partition which will be the primary partition for the Operating System and Application Programs and the remaining 40GB for your backup or other uses.

A Solid State Drive

A Solid State Drive
A Solid State Drive | Source

3. High Level Formatting

High-level formatting is the process of creating the disk's logical structures such as the file allocation table and root directory in readiness in use with an operating system. These logical structures are necessary for they help the operating system in managing space on the disk, keeping track of the files, and managing defective areas of the disk. High-level formatting is done after partitioning when you are preparing a new disk. However, when a user wishes to erase the hard disk drive and reinstall the operating system back onto the hard disk drive, the partitioning stage can be skipped.

The most important thing that happens during high-level formatting is the creation of a file allocation table. The file allocation table is like a table of contents for the disk, it is used by the operating system to locate files on the disk.

Hard Disk Without a Cover

The Inside of a Hard Disk Drive
The Inside of a Hard Disk Drive | Source

A Number of File Systems Have Been Developed, for Example:-

  1. FAT 12 - FAT file system using 12-bit cluster addressing, used with diskettes.

  2. FAT16 - FAT file system using 16-bit cluster addressing, used with Windows 95.

  3. FAT32 - FAT file system using 32-bit cluster addressing; Windows 98.

  4. NTFS (New Technology File System) – A file system for Windows NT which also supports FAT file system proprietary to Windows XP, Vista, 2000, NT & Windows 7.

4. Installation of the Operating System

The operating system is a software program that acts as an interface between the computer hardware and the computer user. The Operating System manages computer hardware resources. It performs functions like recognizing input from input devices, sending output to the display unit, controlling peripheral devices, among others. The user cannot be able to install other programs before installing the operating system.

5. Installing Application Software

Application software is a computer program that helps the user to manipulate raw data and be able to perform specific tasks. Office suites, accounting software, graphic design software, database programs, web browsers are some good examples of application software used in computers. The application software is installed depending on the user's needs.


Note: If you partition or high-level format a disk with existing data, you will lose your data. Necessary measures should be taken like backing up your data in order to avoid loss of vital data.

Hard Drive Formatting

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© 2012 Patrick Kamau


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    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      You are Emmanuel Kariuki.

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks for quick response. I made an error about the suspicious partition. It is actually an 'F'.

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Emmanuel Kariuki, you are very correct you should use drive G: for your back up. On the other hand, E: is also safe to use because if your drive crashes, it is only C: that will be affected. The only problem is if your hard disk physically crashes or gets damaged, at that moment you might loose your work.

      All in all, remember to use other backup methods for instance you can burn your most important data into a CD/DVD, you can store it on a removable disk or store some of your work in your mail (attachments), you can also make use of online back up.

      Thanks and take care.

    • Emmanuel Kariuki profile image

      Emmanuel Kariuki 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Answer this Patkay:

      Drive C is partioned to a spare E. There is also a D that is too small for anything and I suspect it was a format error. I have another drive from an older computer that has been assigned G. Between E and G, which is the best place to save files that should be accessible in case of a computer crash. My guess is G because it is not a system disk. But I find mor space in E and therefore tend to use it more - fearfully.

    • Patkay profile imageAUTHOR

      Patrick Kamau 

      6 years ago from Nairobi, Kenya

      Thanks m.joseph for reading and commenting. I want to provide more materials to those who want to know more about computers.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      The same topic we are covering in school.Am glad to find it here.


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