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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 space available again. Moreover, during the process, we can even change the file system. However, in addition to the 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 erasure of the hard disk. This is known as Low Level Format.
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It is not the first time that a user sells a formatted hard disk through a disk manager and when it arrives at the destination it recovers private data from the seller. To prevent this from happening we have a tool called HDD Low Level Format that allows us to format a hard disk so that our data is completely deleted and impossible to recover.
HDD Low Level Format supports IDE, SATA, USB, Firewire, SCSI and SAS disks regardless of their brand. It also supports formatting SSD devices and USB memories to keep them completely erased.
Once downloaded, if we have the normal version, we install it on our computer as any other application. If we have the portable version we run it and we will see a window where we will be asked to pay for the program to get better formatting speeds and free updates for life. In our case we are going to use the free version which works perfectly. To do this we select «Continue for free».
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If you are thinking of selling, giving away or simply discarding a hard disk or flash drive and you want to be sure that you will not be able to recover the data it contained, a low level format is the best solution.
With a normal formatting you can always recover some data; in fact there are programs and companies specialized in this. To make sure that nobody is going to recover the data of our hard disk the ideal thing will be to make a formatting to low level. Nowadays there are simple tools to handle that allow us to format a hard disk in a fast way and that assure us that our data will not be able to be recovered again.
We are talking about tools such as the well-known HDD Low Level Format. It is one of the most used and that we can download for free from its web page. This free version limits the formatting speed to 180 GB per hour (50 MB/s), but we also have the possibility of formatting without limits if we switch to the paid version by paying only 3.30 dollars. We can even download from the web a version that does not require installation.
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SeaTools for DOS can be downloaded from the SeaTools home page. It includes three options to erase (fill with zeros). Filling with zeros writes zeros to each data sector to cover the entire drive capacity and clears most defects.
The SeaTools download routine for DOS creates a bootable CD or floppy disk. Boot from the CD or diskette to start SeaTools for DOS. Once it starts, it is a good idea to run a drive check. The basic short test takes less than a minute to complete. The basic long test may take several hours, depending on the capacity of the drive. When you are ready to erase the unit,
Erase Track ZERO – erases only the first 63 sectors of the drive, which takes less than a second to complete. This procedure deletes the Master Boot Record (MBR) and the Partition Table. This will make the drive «empty» for a new operating system installation.