July 31st, 2002, 02:35 PM
Being relatively new to the computer/security game I have probably some stupid questions, but I wonder...
Is there a limit to how many times a hard drive can be formatted?
Also will accessive formatting eventually damage a drive?
and finally...Does formatting really erase everything?
Can anyone enlighten me here...?
July 31st, 2002, 02:40 PM
Yes, excessive formatting a hard drive will effect it, I am not sure of how may writes before you experience bad sectors, but eventually you will start having problems, and as far as formatting erasing. That is a negative. You would have to use a program that over writes in a High, Low, Random Charecter Pass. Such as NTWipe from Maresware.com or BCWipePD from jetico.com
July 31st, 2002, 05:15 PM
does formatting really erase everything?
first i say no, it doesn't erase everything. for example the Mast Boot Sector (MBS) isn't erased when formatting your HD.
but if you mean, if the data stored on the drive is erased, i can't really say. i only know that data stored on a Ext2-Filesystem (f.e. under Linux) isn't clearly erased when formatting. a part of the data is still on the HD but can't be accessed!
\"Imagination is more important than knowledge\" (A. Einstein)
July 31st, 2002, 10:36 PM
re: formatting HD and its' effects...
AFAIK, reformatting has little effect on your hard drive as far as life expectancy is concerned. Note that I said
little, and not no. As Joey_Batch_File pointed out, there are third-party progs that will do successive
wipedowns of your harddrive. That said, regular usage itself might be more hazardous to your drive, not to
mention system performance, if you're not doing regular maintenance, like fsck/scandisk, defrag, etc. If you check
the manufacturers' website, you'll probably see lifetime expectancy information regarding your particular model.
There are so many others factors involved besides formatting such as h/w type (IDE or SCSI), operating environment,
abuse, Quality Control (or lack thereof) and many more that you have to take into consideration.
Just remember, there's no such thing as a silly question (as long as it's reasonably silly ).
Keep it up...
You can lead a yak to water, but you can\'t teach an old dog
to make a silk purse out of a pig in a poke
-Berke Breathed/ Opus The Penguin
July 31st, 2002, 11:11 PM
I just formatted a HD and started having problems with it, so after reading this tread, I'm wondering... Maybe the formatting messed it up. :-/ Oh well, It's lost now. Nothing I can do to get the stuff back.
July 31st, 2002, 11:28 PM
Formatting will not damage your hard drive more than any other normal use. If you are going to do excessive formatting (let's say 100000000 times) you will probably experience some problems with your disk. About the information stored on it: it's possible to recover data on a formatted disk (even on a several times formatted disk).
Therefor you need to use a program that fills your disk several times with random useless info (like wipeinfo does). This process will erase your data (if you really are paranoid and you watched to many spy movies, you can also manually destroy your disk completly by killing it with a hamer, sand it, use acid and finaly burning the pieces anyway, it's very unlikly that you are that important that you have to do those things).
Normally several overwrites will be enough (many progs let you choose how many times, depending on the "sensitivity" of the data stored) German standards require a minimum of 7 overwrites. It's important to erase your slackspace at the end of a cluster and the 'free space' too, cause those can be used to reconstruct data.
Programs that allow to do several overwrites, erasing your data:
Norton Wipe Info http://www.symantec.com (commercial licence)
File Shredder 2000 http://downloads-zdnet.com.com/3000-2092-10062821.html (free 30 day trail)
Eraser 5.3 http://downloads-zdnet.com.com/3000-2092-10020208.html (free)
Ontrack DataEraser http://www.ontrack.com/dataeraser/ (commercial licence)
You can read at http://cits.gov.bc.ca/serv/norton.htm how to erase a disk completly using Norton Wipe Info (c)
July 31st, 2002, 11:29 PM
The way a harddrive works is similar to that of a floppy disk. A harddrive has heads (a piece of metal with a magnet in it simplist terms) which read and write to the hardrive. The harddrive has ions on top of a disk and when it writes data it aligns ions in a specific way. When reading the read head reads the polarity (positive or negitive) and the info is sent and decoded. Now, formating a billion times (litterally) will decrease the life of the harddrive by less than .1% so don't worry because all that is happening is all of the ions are told to go to the same polarity. The only thing you should worry about is constant use causing the head (that little arm with the magnet) to actually drop. You will know when this happens...trust me! You will hear an aweful screeching and your computer won't see a harddrive so your screen will show nothing and your computer will give you a series of beeps.
EVERYTHING ON YOUR HARDDRIVE IS EARASED EXCEPT FOR THE MASTER BOOT SECTOR (which if you have Linux or BSD a part of the OS is still left, otherwise it is just factor stuff and things like that)...although it can be reconstructed the same way as when you delete a file...a simple computer forensic trick that reads for traces of where ions have been and how they were aranged. Don't worry about formatting, it won't kill your harddrive and it is not the actual cause of bad sectors...use is the cause of that and sometimes reformating can fix that, but I would just say don't put data there (scan disk regularly and it will cordon off bad sectors so that they aren't written to that way you won't write to them unknowingly and lose info!).
July 31st, 2002, 11:32 PM
It's unlikely that the formatting messed up, Magistrate. Generally, the damage that over-formatting will cause will be bad clusters, which, when it format, it makes unreadable/unwritable, so in effect, they don't exist. If you're having problems with the drive after formatting, it's probably a Windows error. If you haven't installed Windows (or another OS) on it, check to make sure your BIOS detects the drive properly and that it's set for either master or slave, depending which it is.
August 1st, 2002, 01:26 AM
Wow!...Thanks a lot you guys for your help, appreciate it.
August 1st, 2002, 01:53 AM
Just as a note. I was in a situation where one of the guys I was working with Ghosted the hard drive for a user. After copying the users data off the machine a storing it safely on a network share. He rebuild the system and resotred the data getting the once tempormental machine back to the user in working order. The user was very happy till (She was a National Partner in the "firm") started looking for her data. She was missing her "D" drive. The tech did not know she was store information, and since hewas a Junior Tech at the time and was faily new to the industry it was a simple mistake. Costly but not like we have done anything like that. I imediately had the user power of the machine and we call one of the Data Recovery Vendors... well.... it cost about $800.00 but they recovered 75% of the users data file on the partitician that was lost... This was after the drive had, had a new Norton Ghost (section by sector) copy on to the drive... So is you data still there... be afraid... be very afraid...
I heard from one of the big consulting firms their IRM (Information Risk Management) Forensic Group can recover data that has been formatted seven times. Well, Not sure I believe all of that but some of it anyway...
My other Computer is a 4000 node Beowulf Custer