Formatting MultiTeraByte Drives Conveniently

vbimport

#1

I recently bought some 4TB drives. Before using any drive I like to “hard” format them completely (not using the quick format option) just to make sure that I’m notified about any bad sectors (and that those sectors are automatically blocked from use). However, on my system, formatting one 4TB drive took more than 30 hours, which meant that I couldn’t reboot or shutdown my machine for more than a day until the format was complete. As an alternative, I was thinking of doing the following for other similarly large drives:

[ol]
[li]Quick format the drive[/li][li]Partition the drive into multiple smaller partitions (maybe 500GB)[/li][li]“Hard” format each partition one at a time (which allows me to reboot, turn off, etc. my computer in between each partition being formatted)[/li][li]Once all the partitions are formatted, repartition the drive into one large partition[/li][li]Possibly quick format the drive again (I’m not sure this step is even necessary).[/li][/ol]
I haven’t tried this yet, so I don’t know how well it would work. Does the above make sense and/or do you have any alternative procedures that would allow me to format a large drive without “holding my computer hostage” for more than a day? Do you see any major disadvantages to the above (other than it requiring multiple steps)? Is it possible that there would be sectors in between the original smaller partitions that wouldn’t be subject to the hard formatting (and therefore not tested)?


#2

Welcome to the forum [B]Haus Myce[/B].

Step 1 is unnecessary - you don’t need to format a drive before partitioning. All you would be doing is creating a single whole drive partition (unpartitioned space cannot be formatted), quick formatting it and deleting it again to repartition.

Steps 4 & 5: If you delete the smaller partitions created in step 2 & replace them with a single large partition, then the new partition will need formatting. However, if you keep the first partition (delete the rest) and expand it to fill the whole disk then the formatting of the extended space will normally be done automatically. Likewise if you use disk management software which can consolidate multiple partitions into one. These options are intended for drives containing data which needs to be kept. As you’re using a new drive, the quickest and most reliable option is to just delete all partitions, repartition and format.

An alternative option to performing a full format is to use 3rd party software which can perform a read/write on every sector (usually called a ‘surface scan’ or similar). This doesn’t normally require a blank partition, so if you wish you could run it periodically to check for potential problems. Although it will still take an equally long time, it may be possible to suspend the test and put your computer to sleep or hibernation. (This may work while performing a standard full format, avoiding the need for the small partitions.) There are lots of free & commercial HDD utilities available. (HDDScan springs to mind, but I can’t remember if I’ve actually used it before. Any bad sectors which develop should be detected & reallocated automatically by the drive and recorded in the SMART data.)


#3

Ibex, thanks for the reply (and the welcome!).

Yes, my steps were for use on a drive with no data (so I wouldn’t have to worry about data loss, and the repartitioning wouldn’t need to relocate data in the new partition(s)). I realize that once data is stored on the drive, then it becomes a more complex issue.

However, if you keep the first partition (delete the rest) and expand it to fill the whole disk then the formatting of the extended space will normally be done automatically.
This formatting would be the functional equivalent of a ‘quick format’?

An alternative option to performing a full format is to use 3rd party software which can perform a read/write on every sector (usually called a ‘surface scan’ or similar).
I have several HDD testing programs, but again I would want to see if any of them can be paused and then resumed (where it left off) after a shutdown or reboot, otherwise I am again in the situation of “being held hostage” until the test is complete. I’ll post here if I come across such a feature in one of the programs. As far as I know, HD Sentinel doesn’t allow such pausing, but hopefully there is at least one program that would.


#4

30 hours for 4TB? Surely that can’t be right.

I’m currently zero filling a 6TB drive and it’s going to take approx 12 hours.


#5

[QUOTE=LIGHTNING UK!;2784026]30 hours for 4TB? Surely that can’t be right.

I’m currently zero filling a 6TB drive and it’s going to take approx 12 hours.[/QUOTE]
Internal SATA connection or external (and what type)?

I’m using a StarTech multi-drive docking station connected by USB 3.0, so that may be one cause.

Also, I know the dock’s firmware needs upgrading (just haven’t had the time to do so), since I was having really slow speeds (> 12 hours) formatting a 1TB HGST Travelstar. When I moved that drive into an internal laptop bay it formatted in about 2-3 hours.

The 4TB drive that I first formatted was also an HGST, so maybe the old firmware has problems correctly recognizing the specific configuration of the HGST brand of drives. When it first took that 30 hours, I wasn’t that surprised, since all of the drives I had put in that dock before were WD 500GB (and I didn’t remember exactly how long it took to format those, since I would typically format them while I was away from the machine, and also it’s been a long time since I formatted any of those 500GB drives). But 30 hours for a drive 8 times the size of my previous drives didn’t seem so extraordinary.

This now gives me more incentive to upgrade the firmware and try formatting the next 4TB drive. I’ll post the result here.

Lightning, thanks for the info!


#6

I’m using a thermaltake blacx 5g docking station and a USB 3.0 connection.

A ‘long’ s.m.a.r.t test had previously completed in 12hrs 23 minutes.


#7

[QUOTE=Haus Myce;2784018]
This formatting would be the functional equivalent of a ‘quick format’?
[/QUOTE]
Depends on the software used and the options selected. But a quick format is likely to be the default.

[QUOTE=Haus Myce;2784018]
I have several HDD testing programs, but again I would want to see if any of them can be paused and then resumed (where it left off) after a shutdown or reboot, otherwise I am again in the situation of “being held hostage” until the test is complete. I’ll post here if I come across such a feature in one of the programs. As far as I know, HD Sentinel doesn’t allow such pausing, but hopefully there is at least one program that would.[/QUOTE]
You can try putting the computer to sleep (or hibernation) while the scan is running. There’s a good change it can resume scanning when the computer is woken, so long as the USB HDD is left attached (not disconnected & reconnected, even while the computer is asleep).

This should also work when formatting. I’ve just done a quick test, putting my computer to sleep while full formatting a new partition (using Windows’ own Disk Management console), and it resumed successfully and completed formatting when the computer was switched on again. This was using an internal drive (no spare USB HDD available), but again so long as your USB drive is left attached there’s a good change it should work.


#8

Great idea, but my computer is a laptop, so the main reason I would shut it down (or even hibernate it) would be so that I [B]could[/B] disconnect it from peripherals and take it with me.

I’ll just keep looking, I’m sure someone has a testing program that can allow itself to be paused and resumed through a shutdown cycle (and that it doesn’t cost too much).


#9

If you need to disconnect the USB drive then your original plan to split the drive into smaller partitions is probably your best option.

I don’t think any software is likely to be able to pause & resume if the drive has been disconnected. Even if the computer is hibernated while a USB drive is disconnected & reconnected, in my experience Windows always has to reconnect it as a new drive when restarted.


#10

[QUOTE=Ibex;2784080]If you need to disconnect the USB drive then your original plan to split the drive into smaller partitions is probably your best option.[/QUOTE]I format one at a time especially USB connected drive the format will be slower then Sata connected drive.

[QUOTE=Ibex;2784080]I don’t think any software is likely to be able to pause & resume if the drive has been disconnected. Even if the computer is hibernated while a USB drive is disconnected & reconnected, in my experience Windows always has to reconnect it as a new drive when restarted.[/QUOTE]Format can’t be paused and breaking a USB drive connection will result in damaged to the drive or failed format or worse make drive unusable even of you try to reformat it again.


#11

[QUOTE=Ibex;2784042]I’ve just done a quick test, putting my computer to sleep while full formatting a new partition (using Windows’ own Disk Management console), and it resumed successfully and completed formatting when the computer was switched on again.[/QUOTE]
Worked fine with my internal drive. USB makes things much more complicated, but I doubt it is likely to actually damage the drive.


#12

Some drive manufacturers have tools that will format their HDDs faster than Windows Format.

Check to see if there is a firmware update for the HDD. This may increase the format speed.

You could start the full format on Friday night after you get home from work and just leave it to run until finished, assuming you don’t work weekends.

HD Tune Pro is my preferred bad sector checker and it has a quick scan and a “deep” scan setting. Sorry give you the actual wording used as I am finishing off a clean install and haven’t completed all the bits and pieces yet.