The interface that connects the hard disk to your computer may have changed over the years. Luckily, the proceedure required for attempted repair of a failed hard disk remains unchanged.

  • Low Level Format
  • Create Partition
  • Format

MFM, RLL, EISA, and SCSI hard disks were supplied from the factory WITHOUT being low level formatted. Installers/Users needed to use DEBUG to jump to a specified memory location. This would initiate the low level format routine that was contained withing a ROM on the hard disk controller.

IDE (RLL with a rewired interface) hard disks were mostly supplied with low level formatting software on the drive. Installers/Users needed to retain the software by copying it to a floppy disk as a first resort.

The IDE manufacturers software is nearly always prefered to earlier (aftermarket) low level formatters. Early generic software was unable to correctly initialize the “SMART” (error remap) capabilities of an IDE drive.

I like to think of a hard disk as being like a carpark:

  • The low level format: Surveying and staking out the area.
  • Partitioning: Laying the Ashfelt over the Surveyed area.
  • Top level Format: Marking out the lines for the cars to park in.

The Hard Disk Low Level Format Tool will low level format a hard drive erasing the whole disk surface in the process which has the result, that it is impossible to restore data afterwards.

It supports SATA, IDE, SCSI, USB, FIREWIRE and Big drives (LBA-48) and the most popular manufacturers Maxtor, Hitachi, Seagate, Samsung, Toshiba, Fujitsu, IBM, Quantum and Western Digital.


I had a 200 gig WD2000JB-00FUA0 full of data. I took the drive to a knowledgable? friend to retrieve some data. Under protest I had to leave the drive with him.

Looks like his bios wasnt compatible with the drive. (Older bios?) But instead of stopping right there so that he didnt loose my valuable data.

He allowed his PC to see the drive in the bios as only 130GB?? He then determined to run various disk manager programs on the drive. He also informed me that NTFS was “unreliable” so (somehow) he managed to “convert” it to FAT. (OMFG KILL ME NOW)

Anyway.. the drive was stuffed. The partitions weren’t accessable to XP. After many “plays” I gave up on the data. Tonight I decided to try and get the drive back into a usable state. Tried Linux distros. I couldnt get a linux to see it either.

In desperation I searched for a low level formatter on the net. (hoping that may sort it..) I ran the above program on it about an hour ago. After a large delay. The program started to spit many errors. (indicating the drive wasn’t functioning properly)

So I reset the PC. Went into XP Disk Management and OMG the drive was there now!! But still not able to use it. So I ran the program again and this time.. It seems to be formatting properly. (It’s about 5% in without an error.. So far) Wish me luck.. :)

I also tried the software on a Seagate 13 gig earlier tonight. It didnt seem to actually do anything. The existing partitions on the seagate certainly weren’t wiped out.

But I have a feeling that a CDROM I had as a slave on the same IDE cable.. may have been interfering. (Some drives either need to be jumpered to accomodate a slave properly.. and visa versa.. otherwise results could be compromised.

I’d suggest always running the drive to be low levelled, alone, on its own IDE cable. And thats exactly what I will do with the Seagate 13 gig when the (yawn) low level format on the 200 gig finishes.. (sometime later today.. the way its going now..)

Hope this info helps someone.

(ps: I couldn’t count how many times I have recovered drive previously using low level software. pps: In the old (386/486 days) some bios’s had low levelling software built in!)

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