After you have physically installed the hard disk and configured CMOS Setup to recognize it, that drive must still be prepared before it can store data. This process requires three steps:
Low-level formatting, also called
physical formatting, records the tracks and
sectors that are used to store data. Low-level formatting occurs at
the hardware level, and is independent of the way that the disk will
be divided and of the operating system that will use it. All ATA and
most SCSI drives are low-level formatted at the factory, so you may
not need to perform this step yourself.
Partitioning divides the physical disk into one
or more logical sections, each of which will contain one or more
logical volumes identified by drive letter. Any hard disk must
contain at least one partition with at least one volume. Any new hard
drive must be partitioned before it can be used.
Logical formatting, also called
high-level formatting or
formatting, creates within the volume the logical disk
structure (called the
filesystem) needed by a
particular operating system to store its data. Drives that will be
accessed by DOS, Windows 3.X, and Windows 9X use the FAT filesystem
(which comes in several variants). Windows NT/2000 uses either FAT or
The following sections examine each of these steps in turn.
Low-level formatting a hard drive lays down the tracks and sectors that will be ...