Hard Disk Low Level Format

Martin Brinkmann
Feb 3, 2008
Updated • Dec 8, 2012

There are two types of hard disk formatting possibilities, low and high level formating. High level formatting is the widely known formatting that erases data on the disks while low level formatting nowadays refers to the reinitialization to the factory settings. One of the major differences between both types is that data can successfully be restored after performing a high level formatting of a hard drive.

This is why experts suggest to either overwrite the hard drive with random data before formatting it or running tools like Eraser to erase all data on the hard drive.

The HDD Low Level Format Tool will low level format a hard drive erasing the whole disk surface in the process which has the result, that it is impossible to restore data afterwards. It supports SATA, IDE, SCSI, USB, FIREWIRE and Big drives (LBA-48) and the most popular manufacturers Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, Fujitsu, IBM, Quantum and Western Digital.

I did not try that hard drive software yet because I do not have a spare hard drive lying around that I could use to test it with and I did not want to format one of my hard drives just for the sake of testing it. If any of you do test the software let me know about the results please. Running a recovery tool like Recuva after formatting the hard drive should show us if the data is really not recoverable.


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  1. Upplady said on April 1, 2020 at 4:05 pm

    err yes because this was the get-volume before the clear-disk. But shouldn t clear-disk report an error if that was the case?

  2. Fefu said on September 7, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    This is *not* a low-level format tool. This tool does the same as Darik’s Boot and Nuke[1] (“DBAN”, quich is free software (GPL) and a much better approach.

    [1] http://www.dban.org/

  3. shravan wadhwa said on November 7, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    I have 250 gb of hitachi hard disk which does not work properly.i format the whole drive but same poblem arise.sometimes when i boot from xp cd they said no hard disk installed in this system.what can i do……my window take 1/2 an hour to start and sometime shutdown automatically and error message dispayed-memory dump……………..what can i do..pzzzzzzzzzzzz help

    1. Anonymous said on June 5, 2011 at 7:58 pm

      bro. ur hdd is now corrupted or damaged.

  4. lazerzap said on February 1, 2010 at 7:10 pm

    I had a 200 gig WD2000JB-00FUA0 full of data. I took the drive to a knowledgable? friend to retrieve some data. Under protest I had to leave the drive with him. Looks like his bios wasnt compatible with the drive. (Older bios?) But instead of stopping right there so that he didnt loose my valuable data. He allowed his PC to see the drive in the bios as only 130GB?? He then determined to run various disk manager programs on the drive. He also informed me that NTFS was “unreliable” so (somehow) he managed to “convert” it to FAT. (OMFG KILL ME NOW) Anyway.. the drive was stuffed. The partitions weren’t accessable to XP. After many “plays” I gave up on the data. Tonight I decided to try and get the drive back into a usable state. Tried Linux distros. I couldnt get a linux to see it either. In desperation I searched for a low level formatter on the net. (hoping that may sort it..) I ran the above program on it about an hour ago. After a large delay. The program started to spit many errors. (indicating the drive wasn’t functioning properly) So I reset the PC. Went into XP Disk Management and OMG the drive was there now!! But still not able to use it. So I ran the program again and this time.. It seems to be formatting properly. (It’s about 5% in without an error.. So far) Wish me luck.. :) I also tried the software on a Seagate 13 gig earlier tonight. It didnt seem to actually do anything. The existing partitions on the seagate certainly weren’t wiped out. But I have a feeling that a CDROM I had as a slave on the same IDE cable.. may have been interfering. (Some drives either need to be jumpered to accomodate a slave properly.. and visa versa.. otherwise results could be compromised. I’d suggest always running the drive to be low levelled, alone, on its own IDE cable. And thats exactly what I will do with the Seagate 13 gig when the (yawn) low level format on the 200 gig finishes.. (sometime later today.. the way its going now..)
    Hope this info helps someone. (ps: I couldn’t count how many times I have recovered drive previously using low level software. pps: In the old (386/486 days) some bios’s had low levelling software built in!)

  5. Aaron said on November 28, 2009 at 2:29 am

    I’ve used this program 2 times on two different computers. One a 10 year old Athlon desktop, the other a brand new Centrino Dell Laptop. Both times it worked flawlessly whereas every other program/method I tried hasn’t worked (especially Microsofts own products). Not sure why my experience is different from those above but I don’t care. About to use it for a 3rd time :o)

  6. Jay Patil said on May 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

    do not use this

  7. anil manekar said on May 6, 2009 at 11:38 am

    I think that low level formatting is a last way to recover from bad sectors.but this process will harmful for your system so,may be don’t use low level formatting.

  8. ScarecroW said on April 5, 2009 at 8:50 pm

    A low level format is used to repair bad sectors from a drive and to clear it back to factory default, if you are experiencing issues with your drive freezing, crashing or losing sectors randomly then a low level format is a warranted course of action but if you are just trying to get rid of data you dont want others to see or to be able to recover then using other programs that can run during normal windows/linux/unix operation can be downloaded from several sites on the internet. With that being said if you are needing to perform a low level format then please see your drive manufacturers site for the appropriate tools due to the possibility of damaging your drive while using a third party program.

  9. Bilal said on February 23, 2009 at 7:49 am

    To do low level format and to completely wipe out HDD data. Use the format software from http://www.killdisk.com, download the CD ISO image , burn to CD, ad boot from CD , the rest can be found in the menu..

  10. Michael said on January 1, 2009 at 6:42 am

    Dave, you must repartition your hdd to see the partitions (make sense??) Mahesh get @active killdisk.

  11. krishna said on September 26, 2008 at 7:24 pm

    To do low level format and to completely wipe out HDD data. Use the format software from http://www.killdisk.com, download the CD ISO image , burn to CD, ad boot from CD , the rest can be found in the menu..

  12. mahesh said on September 26, 2008 at 2:08 pm

    i want to do Low level format give me step how would I do that?

  13. Armando said on September 24, 2008 at 8:10 am

    DONT DO THAT !!!!!!

    The electrostatic shock is possible that may cause damage the HDD as it did for my 200 Gig MAXTOR HDD and it fucked off.

  14. Krishna said on August 7, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    My Toshiba HDD of notebook is formatted and it is detected only in BIOS, can not be used as slave HDD, if used primary HDD won’t boot. Any solution mail me at: krishna.net.np@gmail.com

  15. Bob said on July 31, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Sorry DIDN’T Recognise any drives

  16. Bob said on July 31, 2008 at 7:43 pm

    Tried to use it did recognise any hard drives. Limited user functionality.

  17. DAVE said on March 9, 2008 at 7:37 am

    I have used this program and it failed to format my 320 GB Seagate Hard disk.

    The program runs for an hour long but and gave a hard disk format confirmation as well but I can still see the partitions and even the data as well.

    HAHA…. This program do not works at all.

    1. Anonymous said on February 5, 2014 at 2:46 pm

      Did you fdisk the drive to remove the partitions then low level format on the drive then use Whatever operating system your installing to format and install the new operating system you will be using. FISK removes old portions and deletes everything on those partitions and restores the drive to factory new unused drive.

  18. Toby Wilkins said on February 28, 2008 at 11:29 am

    Rarst – “Low level format is total overkill for secure erasing of data”

    No its not, if you dont do a low level format or destroy the drive physically most of your data is still there. You dont want to sell a drive on ebay with private info on the drive.

  19. paul said on February 7, 2008 at 10:15 am

    got hdd that crashed,will trying this program help to sort it out?have tried normal formatting but hasn’t worked.

  20. Rarst said on February 3, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    Low level format is total overkill for secure erasing of data. It is not needed for this (mentioned programs for erasing do just fine) and could (if used repeatedly WILL) damage HDD.

    It is really used for repairing drives and actually requires person with knowledge of what it can and what can’t fix.

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