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How to FORMAT Hard Drive in DOS, before reinstalling XP Home?

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How to FORMAT Hard Drive in DOS, before reinstalling XP Home?

Old 09-02-02, 05:56 PM
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How to FORMAT Hard Drive in DOS, before reinstalling XP Home?

I believe there is an option with XP Home during install, to format the HD. But is this as thorough as doing the old "format c:/" ?

I can not find a way to get to a DOS prompt (or restart in MD DOS mode) when I am in XP.

The drive is currently in NTSF format

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Old 09-02-02, 06:00 PM
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yes, its just as thorough.. if you only did format c:/ before
if you used switches.. then its not as thorough

I normally do a format: /u
which does an unconditional format
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Old 09-02-02, 06:59 PM
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Originally posted by twikoff
yes, its just as thorough.. if you only did format c:/ before
if you used switches.. then its not as thorough

I normally do a format: /u
which does an unconditional format

1 - What is an uncondtional format?

2- How do you do it from XP?
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Old 09-03-02, 03:08 AM
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I'd personally use the format utility during the WinXP install. First off, before you do that do you want your WinXP partition to be FAT32 or NTFS? I'm pretty sure that the WinXP install will format in either file system but doing it from fdisk will only do it in FAT32 (well FAT16 also but I assume your HD is bigger than 2GB).

Formats are formats. They'll both wipe the file system clean.

If you want to format your HD using fdisk I'd suggest getting a friend to make you a Win98 boot disk. This is so you can get to a DOS prompt to run fdisk. DOS is not present in WinXP so you can't get to it that way. With that said, I think you'd be much better off using the format during the WinXP install.
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Old 09-03-02, 11:14 AM
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Originally posted by Sominex
1 - What is an uncondtional format?
/U
Specifies an unconditional format of a disk. Unconditional formatting destroys all existing data on a disk and prevents you from later "unformatting" the disk. You should use /U if you have received read and write errors during use of a disk. For information about unformatting a disk, see the UNFORMAT command.


basically.. when you format a drive using just the standard format.. without any switches, or through the setup.. the information is still there on the drive and can be unformatted.
but by doing an unconditional format, low level format, writing zeros to the drive, etc.. it will make it so the old information is completely overwritten.
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Old 09-03-02, 11:40 AM
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The normal format (at least in DOS 5.0 and higher) had an unformat portion that saved the old file tables, and you could unformat if you wanted to. Unfortunately, this took time and took up space on the hard drive as well. A good thing if you're careless, bad if you aren't.

The /q performs a quick format with no saving of unformat data. It deletes the file allocation table and root directory. This is just a glorified delete command. The /u format deletes all information off the drive and re-scans the disk for bad sectors. It's a bit better at destroying data, but the data is still there, and still recoverable with the right tools.

An other interesting format switch is the undocumented /autotest switch. It performs an unconditional format, but does not ask any questions while it does so. Very handy if you have several disks to do.

Sominex, the format at install should be just as "thorough" as the old MS-DOS format -- which, as we see, isn't very thorough at all. You really need specialized tools if you're wanting to destory data so that it cannot be recovered. If you're just wanting to set up a new installation, the standard install tools should be fine.

You can't get to MS-DOS in XP because it doesn't exist any more. Windows 3.x, 95, and 98 existed on top of MS-DOS, so you could always revert back to it in those versions. No version of NT (which XP is a derivative of, as is Win2K) has ever been on the MS-DOS platform, and thus, there's no way to get to it running these operating systems.

However, you can get a command prompt, which is very similar to the MS-DOS prompt. Just click start, then run, then type in "CMD" in the box. You can also find "Command Prompt" under the Accessories tab in the start menu.

You will not be able to format the root drive in XP using the command prompt, though you can do most other things you could do in DOS.

Last edited by einTier; 09-03-02 at 11:47 AM.
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Old 09-03-02, 11:45 AM
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Originally posted by einTier
You can't get to MS-DOS in XP because it doesn't exist any more. Windows 3.x, 95, and 98 existed on top of MS-DOS, so you could always revert back to it in those versions. No version of NT (which XP is a derivative of, as is Win2K) has ever been on the MS-DOS platform, and thus, there's no way to get to it running these operating systems.
Shh, don't let Bill know that we know that.
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