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Two Formatting Steps
Many PC users don't realize that formatting a hard disk isn't done in a single step. In fact, three steps are involved:
As you can see, two of the three steps are "formatting", and this dual use of the word is a big part of what leads to a lot of confusion when the term "formatting" is used. Another strange artifact of history is that the DOS "FORMAT" command behaves differently when it is used on a hard disk than when it is used on a floppy disk. Floppy disks have simple, standard geometry and cannot be partitioned, so the FORMAT command is programmed to automatically both low-level and high-level format a floppy disk, if necessary. For hard disks, however, FORMAT will only do a high-level format. Low-level formatting is performed by the controller for older drives, and at the factory for newer drives.
Next: Low-Level Formatting