Ask Experts Questions for FREE Help !
    Scleros's Avatar
    Scleros Posts: 2,166, Reputation: 262
    Hardware Expert

    Sep 11, 2009, 10:12 PM
    Hard Drive FAQ
    ATTENTION: This FAQ is Microsoft Windows biased to avoid excessive information that may lead to confusion for novice computer users. If you have a hard drive issue for Linux, Mac, or any other operating system, please post a question in this forum or in the relevant operating system forum.

    Q: I just bought a new hard drive. Now what?
    A: New drives need to be prepared before they can be used for storing data files. Once the drive, either external or internal, has been properly cabled, jumpered, or otherwise physically installed, it must be logically prepared for use by the operating system that will be using it or installed on it. Preparation consists of segregating the drive into one or more partitions and then formatting each partition with a filesystem. The formatted partitions are then assigned a logical drive letter, such as C:.

    Drive preparation in Microsoft Windows 95, 98, ME:
    New blank single drives are prepared for Windows installation using a DOS boot disk or CD containing the FDISK and FORMAT command-line tools. Additional drives can be added using the same command-line tools within a DOS prompt from within Windows.

    Drive preparation in Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, Vista +
    New blank single drives are prepared during Windows Setup with the computer booted from the Windows disc. Additional drives are prepared within Windows using the Disk Management section of the Computer Management applet in the Control Panel Administrative Tools.

    Q: My drive is making unusual noises / isn't recognized / won't read / generates errors / has a problem?
    A: Use the manufacturer's diagnostic below to check the drive.

    Fujitsu - Diagnostic Tools

    Hitachi Global Storage Solutions (also for some IBM drives) - Drive Fitness Test

    Lenovo - Hard Drive Quick Test

    Seagate Technology (also for Connor, Maxtor drives) - SeaTools

    Western Digital - Data Lifeguard Tools (Floppy Version)
    CD and other software versions available in support section for a specific drive model on Western Digital's website.

    Q: I'm getting rid of my computer. How do I clean my personal data from it so that I do not suffer from identity theft?
    A: The most secure way is to physically shred the drive using one of the many services available that do so. Google data destruction. Alternatively, one of the following free software utilities can erase and/or overwrite the drive with random data to make it extremely unlikely your data can be recovered. These utilities can also be used to eradicate stubborn malware infestations.

    WARNING: Use of these utilities will destroy all data including the operating system (e.g. Windows, etc.) requiring operating system reinstallation.

    DBAN - Darik's Boot and Nuke
    Active KillDisk
    Heidi Eraser

    Q: How do I backup my drive/data?
    A: There are different types of backup. Windows includes a file based backup utility (Start > Programs > Accessories > System Tools > Backup, or thereabouts) that can be used for partial or full system backup. A more expedient option to data recovery is drive imaging software that creates a complete point-in-time image of a hard drive (i.e. cloning) and then allows recovery of the image onto a new or existing drive without requiring installation of an operating system on the computer first (i.e. bare metal recovery) which the Windows backup utility would require. Each approach allows backup to a variety of backup media including additional hard drives, CD or DVD optical discs, tape drives, or USB Flash memory drives. There are numerous backup utilities a web search away. A sampling of popular free, open-source, and commercial backup utilities is listed below:
    Please report bad or changed links to author or AskMeHelpDesk Administrator.
    Clough's Avatar
    Clough Posts: 26,677, Reputation: 1649
    Uber Member

    Sep 12, 2009, 01:44 PM
    Thank you for posting that, Scleros!

    Great idea and very helpful!


Not your question? Ask your question View similar questions


Question Tools Search this Question
Search this Question:

Advanced Search

Add your answer here.

Check out some similar questions!

Replace existing hard drive with upgrade to larger hard drive? [ 6 Answers ]

How do you replace existing hard drive for a larger one and how to save info on existing device?

How to format a hard drive on a dell desktop with XP home edition and no floppy drive [ 18 Answers ]

How do I format a hard drive on a Dell Dimension 8110 with Windows XP home edition 2007 without a floppy drive? I tried to follow answers to some similar qustions posted previously on this site but when I do I get messages like "what's the disk volume label" from the command prompt window after...

Is this cd/dvd drive and hard drive compatible with this motherboard? [ 4 Answers ]

Hi everyone I want to know if these parts are compatible... - ASUS Black 20X DVD+R 8X DVD+RW 8X DVD+R DL 20X DVD-R 6X DVD-RW 14X DVD-RAM 16X DVD-ROM 48X CD-R 32X CD-RW 48X CD-ROM 2MB Cache SATA 20X DVD±R DVD Burner with LightScribe - CD / DVD Burners - Western Digital...

Hard drive easy question! Help! And 1 hard one! [ 6 Answers ]

undefined I have two questions first is the hard one I tried out a trial version of "folder locker" which locks up and encrypts (I guess) your deata so no one else can see it when they are on your computer.. it also lkets you lock down entire drives.. so somehow I went to lock down my o drive and...

USB External Hard Drive (drive connect problem) [ 7 Answers ]

After connecting my external hard drive to a usb port. Assigns to a used drive F. to get to the ext hd I have to disconnect F then I'm able to open the ext hd. How can I get the ext. hd to go to the next available drive letter or can I assign one?

View more questions Search