What Does Formatting a Disk Mean?

Techwalla may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

When you want to install an operating system and start fresh on your disk, the solution is to format it. Formatting disks gives you a fresh, new and empty disk. You can benefit in many ways from formatting a disk, but should do it only when necessary.


When Should I Format my Disk?

You should format your hard disk drive when you have experienced problems with the structure of the disk, or you want to start fresh. Keep in mind that formatting your disk means that you will lose all of the data on that disk.

Video of the Day

What Kind of Disks can I Format?

Disks capable of being formatted include hard disks and rewritable removable media (i.e. floppy disks, DVD-RW's, CD-RW's, etc.). In all these different types of disks, formatting performs the same action. Each disk has its own file system to format on. You should choose wisely which file system you will use.


What is a File System?

A file system is a way for the operating system to recognize the organization and indexing of files. Without a file system, your disk is just a mere collection of raw materials that spins and nothing more. A disk cannot hold files without a filing system. One example of a file system is CDFS, the file system for Compact Disks (CD's).

How do I format my Hard Disk?

In Microsoft Windows, formatting your hard disk is sometimes as easy as right-clicking the disk on My Computer and clicking "Format." However, if you want to format your system disk, you will need a bootable CD-ROM or DVD that contains file system information and a program that will format your disk without needing to boot up your disk's operating system. Usually, operating system installation disks give you the option of formatting your disk before installing the operating system.


How Long does it Take to Format my Disk?

This is dependent on the amount of data storage of your disk, and, most importantly, the amount of space you allocated on the partition you are formatting. In other words, a 200GB disk partition will format faster than a 1TB partition.