Low-level format

An initial formatting of a hard drive that initializes the physical tracks on the surface or the internal disks. The drive manufacturer usually performs a low-level format on the hard drive before it is released and is not something a user needs to do once they've purchased the drive.

If a high-level format (e.g. running the MS-DOS format command) is unable to be completed on a hard drive or you're looking for information about how to do a low-level format because of a MBR virus or being unable to delete partitions, a debug routine can be performed on the computer that is often referred to as a low-level format. This debug routine can be found on our debug routine page.

Related pages

Also see: Format, Hard drive terms, High-level format, MFM