What Are the Benefits of Formatting a Hard Drive?

By Jasmine Carpenter

Over time, a computer's hard drive may experience malfunctions due to wear and tear, viruses, or programs that cause system conflicts and bog down the PC. To help maintain and resolve performance issues, reformatting the hard drive on a yearly basis is advisable. It's also a good idea to take several precautions to wipe a hard drive, so that personal and private data will not be recovered, especially if an older computer is sold or discarded.

History

A computer hard drive is a mechanical device that's designed to manipulate and store data. System crashes can occur if the devices become worn or malfunctions. To extend the lifespan of the device, the user should take steps to protect the components and use care when operating the computer. Performing tasks such as backing up and defragmenting the hard drive to prevent data loss should be performed on a regular basis.

Facts

Reformatting an operating system, such as Windows, will wipe out old data, clean overloaded registries, and get rid of viruses that are causing damage to the system. Computer operating systems are designed to rewrite and modify a small portion of the file's data and mark it for deletion. The remainder of the file's data is moved to free clusters on the hard drive.

Function

Before reformatting a hard drive, the user should run a virus utility program to clean up the operating system. This process will prevent any corrupt files from reattaching themselves to the reinstalled or new operating system. Next, back up any files you plan to keep to an external drive. To start the formatting process and to install the Windows operating system, insert the CD that came with the computer, or a new operating system CD into the drive. Boot up the computer and carefully follow the instructions on the screen. Using the DOS 'Format" command will reconfigure the file allocation tables on the hard drive and check block integrity. Once the process is completed, the operating system can be installed.

Significance

To prevent future system crashes and extend the life of a computer, use methods that will improve the performance the hard drive. Several precautions to safeguard personal and private information from unscrupulous individuals should be undertaken. There are several ways to extract credit card numbers, social security numbers, banking and medical information from hard drives. Keep in mind, when a computer user deletes a file and instructs the recycle bin to empty, performing this task will not permanently erase the file data from the hard drive. To permanently delete or wipe files, an effective way is overwriting the stored data files, and re-magnetize the hard drive to scramble the data.

Benefits

After formatting a hard drive and reinstalling the operating system, software program conflicts or glitches should disappear, and the computer's performance will improve significantly.