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PC Hardware in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition by Barbara Fritchman Thompson, Robert Bruce Thompson

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Diskette Types and Formats

Before a diskette can be used to store data, you must prepare it by formatting it, although many diskettes nowadays come preformatted. Formatting creates the physical tracks and sectors that the drive uses to store data (called low-level or physical formatting) and the logical structure used by the operating system to organize that data (called logical or DOS formatting). Unlike hard disks, which require two separate formatting passes, FDDs perform both physical and logical formatting in one step. Also unlike hard disks, diskettes do not need to be partitioned.

Warning

The Quick Format option available in Windows and later versions of DOS doesn’t really format the diskette. It simply “zeros out” the File Allocation Tables and Root Directory entries, giving the appearance of a freshly formatted diskette but using the original format. Because data on diskettes fades with time, your data will be much safer if you do an actual format, which does a surface test and refreshes the physical and logical format structure of the diskette. Use Quick Format only on diskettes that have recently had a full format done on them. Also, do not count on a Quick Format to wipe sensitive data from a diskette. It’s trivially easy to recover such data. To wipe data, do a full format on the diskette. Better yet, use a wipe utility, or bulk-erase the diskette. You have been warned.

To format a diskette with Windows, right-click the drive icon in My Computer or Explorer, choose ...

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