View Full Version : IDE low level formatting ?

07-16-2002, 03:58 AM
Hi there
I heard different stories about IDE low level formatting, some say you can, some say you shouldn't.
Does low level formatting ( i.e. with FWB's HDT ) harm anything ?
TIA and best regards

07-18-2002, 07:43 AM
If you search the Apple KB you will find an article on when to ZERO ALL. There was an older version of Drive Setup that actually would attempt a LLF but it is harmful. Why you want to use current driver software, meaning HDT 4.5.2, not 3.02 or earlier. Drive Setup is 2.07. Intech's HDST 3.5 also fixes some problems found in earlier versions.

Drive Setup has a Test feature but it isn't 100% in mapping out bad blocks the way Zero All will. Norton just locks a file on the bad block. Unless you know you have a bad block or suspect there is, don't.

SCSI can and even there the need with today's drives isn't like in the past where the first thing you might do when you bought a drive was to go through and do a LLF.

If you have trouble finding the article(s), ask again. Or over what it says.

Knowledge Base (http://kbase.info.apple.com/cgi-bin/WebObjects/kbase.woa) Search on "low level" and there are 4-5 great articles.


07-18-2002, 11:22 AM
Thanks a lot Gregory, and best regards

07-29-2002, 10:51 AM
I have not heard that it is harmful in any way but only that it wastes a LOT of time doing abslutely nothing..on an ATA drive

LLF resets all scsi markers and maps out bad blocks. If you need to do this on an ATA drive you must first format using "zero all data" then after that is done (in Drive Setup) there is a "Test Disk" command in the options menu that you must also run.


Damien's Stuff (http://www.macmeisters.com/Damien/)

07-29-2002, 02:19 PM
Test Disk is usually done first but is not as thorough, but often will fix a bad block. If you've done the zero all, there isn't any need, unless just to insure - and doesn't take long and can be run in the background with almost no affect on other operations.

One problem I still see is that you can't do any of this from within OS X yet. Most of day's ATA drives should handle the reallocation of bad blocks automatically, on the fly. Zero all only forces a read/write to every block to trigger the drive's processor to do so.

At one time an early version of Drive Setup DID allow attempting to "low level" ATA drives - with the result it destroyed drives.

08-12-2002, 07:02 AM
I've been told by OWC Tech staff there's no such thing as Low Level Formatting of an ATA drive ... you can Zero out all the areas, but that's it. Unknowingly, I had attempted to use FWB Hard Disk Toolkit to LLF my new ATA, but it just skipped out, and did not do it (after saying it was going to take 33+ hours ...).

I have not been able to get my ATA/100 Seagate IV drive up on my 8500/180 (upgraded to a PowerLogix G3/400/300/1MB). I had to send back a SIIG ATA/133 because I could not install an OS 9.1 on the drive, after Drive Setup had partitioned, and zeroed everything. I'm sure there's something I have missed ... perhaps just go with an ATA/66, since my drive only has sustained Read/Write speeds much less than 66 ... I believe the SIIG controller card just will not work on my older Mac, even though they "theorize" it should ....

... now OWC says if I call SIIG, they will tell me it won't work ... why did they sell me it in the first place?

08-12-2002, 11:57 AM
Go to Apple's Support Knowledge BAse and type "low level format" and click on the links, one of which tells you how to use Drive Setup to map out bad blocks... that is all done by the drive when written to automatically, the zero all feature and test only force the drive to handle it. EArly version of DS (one anyway) was doing it improperly.

If you don't have or use the latest versions, there is always more chance of error, but you have to say what system and versions you use.

I'd go by what Apple says, works for me, and does not harm a drive. You don't need FWB for ATA drives OR SCSI. ie, the cost of OS X? 10.2 has even better Disk Utility, format drives (but not the LLF capablity... which merely reassigns blocks).