When Disposing Disks Or Hard Drives?

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When disposing disks or hard drives, it is recommended to format them (writing binary zeros) at least seven times. Why seven times?

Low-level formatting is a waste of time and has been since the early 1990s. Don’t do it. To those not in the know, low-level formatting is not the same as regular formatting, nor is it the same as re-initializing a drive with a new partition table. Low-level formatting was how you were able to set up and optimize a hard disk’s geometry after having received it and was often required back in the day. It’s not required and hasn’t been for a very long time. What’s more is trying to do an LL format on a modern hard disk does literally nothing. Disk controllers will not do it, and the low-level formatting is done during the manufacture phase and the details of drive geometry and set in stone within the drive’s controller itself and nothing outside the drive will ever actually see it, as t’ll be using logical block addressing. tl;dr Just don’t try low-level formatting. You’re accomplishing literally nothing useful and you’re going to put a heavy load on the drive for no reason and could potentially shorten the life of your drive. EDIT. Reading other answers suggests that t may have meant zeroing the drive. It varies depending on the drive, but about 4–5 hours. Frankly I would never call zeroing “low-level formatting” because that’s not formatting at all, so I stand by my answer.

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EDIT 2. Frankly I think I may have been a tad unclear on how this really works on many of the discussions posted above and thought it was worth clarifying a bit. In theory, when you use LBA-ed files that are the equivalent of 16 KB, a new block of zeroed space will be created on the hard disk. This new space will be known as an ODD and a single partition will be made up by this new ODD containing the deleted files. On the other hand, if you used LBA-ed files that were larger than 16 KB, a new block of zeroed space will be allocated but will be known as an OLD. This block of zeroed space will be used to store the file. If two users delete the same files at the same moment, the hard drive will be forced to perform a delete operation to free.

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