How Do I Format a 1TB HDD (NTFS)?

JackSpadesSI

Senior member
Jan 13, 2009
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I don?t want to get into the ?why? of it, but my HDD was sufficiently messed up that I wanted to reformat it. I didn?t see an option from the Vista install disc when booting from it, so I searched for HDD wipers. I wound up using the free version of KillDisk which writes one pass of all zeros.

Now I can?t even get the Vista install disc to work right by booting from it. It still does the whole ?loading files? white bar, then it does another progress bar (the same one when it boots Windows normally) but then it gives me a Blue Screen error.

My best guess is that my HDD is now completely empty ? not even formatted. How can I format this HDD so that Vista can install onto it properly? I assume it must be formatted for NTFS for Vista to work. Is there a ?bootable HDD formatter? that I can try?
 

CalvinHobbes

Diamond Member
Feb 27, 2004
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If the drive wasn't formatted Vista should still install (it should format it). Even without a partition you should get some option to select a drive to install to. At that point you should be able to delete partitions or format the drive as NTFS.
 

JackSpadesSI

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Jan 13, 2009
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Well, that's not the case. Is there anything else that would explain the BSOD?

The Vista install disc just won't get to the point where it can start its install (and/or formatting). My old XP Pro disc won't get to that point, either, for what that information is worth.
 

JackSpadesSI

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Jan 13, 2009
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I assume I download the actual application from:

http://www.sysresccd.org/Download

and use the one called "Download final stable version for x86 (i486-PC)". Would you please confirm that is the right .ISO to download in order to format my HDD for NTFS to install Vista?

Is that software free?
 

RebateMonger

Elite Member
Dec 24, 2005
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Run Memtest86+ and the disk maker's diagnostics program to make sure you don't have a hardware problem.

Vista Install DVDs can also be used to boot into Repair Mode, which offers a "DOS Prompt". From there, you can run Vista's DISKPART program, which can be used to examine the structure of the hard drive as well as create and delete partitions and format them.
 

mc866

Golden Member
Dec 15, 2005
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Gparted live disc will allow you to boot to the cd and format the drive from there, sounds like you may be having some other issues though.
 

yh125d

Diamond Member
Dec 23, 2006
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In the vista install bit, when it asks where to install, click advanced options and you can create, delete, format, and (i think) extend/shrink partitions
 

A5

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Jun 9, 2000
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Originally posted by: JackSpadesSI
I assume I download the actual application from:

http://www.sysresccd.org/Download

and use the one called "Download final stable version for x86 (i486-PC)". Would you please confirm that is the right .ISO to download in order to format my HDD for NTFS to install Vista?

Is that software free?

I'd just use this one actually:
http://sourceforge.net/project...0.4.5-2.iso&a=86384892

It should boot directly to the program you need once it gets started.
 

JackSpadesSI

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Jan 13, 2009
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Ok, let's say my HDD was working just fine and I could even boot into Windows normally. In that case, how would you all recommend me to completely reformat the HDD?

If I did do something wrong to this drive, I'd like to know how to do it properly for my other one. Please let me know.
 

TheKub

Golden Member
Oct 2, 2001
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Originally posted by: JackSpadesSI
Ok, let's say my HDD was working just fine and I could even boot into Windows normally. In that case, how would you all recommend me to completely reformat the HDD?

If I did do something wrong to this drive, I'd like to know how to do it properly for my other one. Please let me know.

Format X: from the command prompt. Where X is the drive in question. Now if the drive in question is c: you cant do that from within windows so you will have to use some rescue\repair\boot\setup cd.

From the sounds of the killdisk utility it looks like it wiped the drives completely (partitions included) if thats the case that is NOT the same as formating the drive.

That being said you should be able to run the vista install CD just fine even on a brand new unpartitioned drive. If it was failing on you, you likely have some other problem as well.

Is this the system in your signature or a different one?
 

Paperdoc

Platinum Member
Aug 17, 2006
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If you are working within Windows and trying to prepare for use a fully functional hard drive, the Windows tools are in Disk Manager. I'm not in VISTA, but it must be similar to XP, so here's how to get there. Click Start, and on that menu RIGHT-click My Computer, and choose Manage. In the resulting window, expand Storage if needed, and choose Disk Management. The window will have on the right two scrolling panes. The upper one shows you all the devices currently in use by Windows, while the lower one shows you these (with other info) plus other connected devices Windows can't use yet. Right-clicking on a device in the lower right pane gives you menus for operations.

You refer to "Formatting" a hard drive, but there really are two steps involved (and possibly three). The first step MAY be removing any existing Partitions (assuming, of course, that you have no need for the data you will destroy) so that the entire disk is Unallocated Space. Then you do a two-step Partition and Format for each volume you want to create. On a physical hard drive unit you can create one or several Partitions, each of which will be treated as separate drives with their own letter names. As long as you have current equipment and OS (you do from your specs) you can make one large Partition or Volume using the entire drive space if you wish to. Or, you can set the size smaller than that and come back later to create another Partition in the remaining Unallocated Space.

The first Partition you create will always be the Primary Partition. Behind the scenes the operation writes information at the start of the hard drive that includes the starting place, size and type of Partition, and I-don't-know-what-else. If you later come back and create a second Partition or more, it simply adds that information to this Partition Table.

When the Primary Partition is created, one option is to make it bootable. You do this if the drive will be used as the system boot drive (that also includes multi-boot situations) and you will install on it an Operating System. A bootable drive has a data pointer to it placed in the MBR and Partition table at the start of the drive, and the OS installation will have to place key files in specific locations on the drive. You don't do any of this yourself - the installation system does that. But if you are not going to boot from this drive, you do not mark it as bootable.

That all reserves physical space, but it's still not ready to use by the OS. For each Partition you create, again in Disk Manager you must right-click on the Partition in the lower right pane and Format it. Formatting creates (for just this one Partition) all the data structures (like a root directory and tables to track the allocation of sectors to files) the OS will need to actually use this disk. In the process you have the option to select which type of File System you want this disk to use. For most uses now you need the NTFS File System which handles very large drives. There are special situations that require the use of older systems like FAT32, but don't do that unless you know you need it. If you have created more than one Partition, you must format each separately.

In doing the format operation, you usually have the option of Quick or Full format. A Quick Format creates all the data structures required and leaves the disk ready to use. Unlike the early days of floppy disks, the magnetic signals on the disk that mark the tracks and sectors are already there, placed by the HDD maker. A Full Format does the Quick thing and then runs a write-and-read test on every sector of the disk, marking any faulty spots in a table so it will never be used. On large current disks this is a many-hour operation (overnight is good) and often considered unnecessary with a new disk. For a used HDD with suspected problems it's a good idea.

After these things are done you escape back out of the Disk Manager system and reboot the machine. All the Partition(s) you created and Formatted should show up in My Computer as individual drives with their own names and no contents yet, ready for use by Windows.

When you install Windows from a CD it does all of this for you before installing files onto the disk thus prepared. The process usually offers you a chance to customize the operation slightly. So the install disks usually have all the utilities for these operations, and they are another source of the tools you can use if you are not operating within Windows in the first place.
 

JackSpadesSI

Senior member
Jan 13, 2009
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Originally posted by: TheKub
Is this the system in your signature or a different one?

Yes, the system in my signature is the one I'm asking about.

The one difference being that I'm currently messing around with a Caviar GREEN 1TB HDD (the drive in question) vs. the Caviar BLACK 1TB HDD that I primarily use (which is sitting, uplugged, in my drawer right now).