which western digital utility do I use to low level format

Posted on 2008-10-08
Last Modified: 2016-06-26
which western digital utility do I use to low level format a friends hdd. It is a wd200bb and here is the website But which utility should I use and can you give me a brief explanation on how to use the utility. I am afraid that the utility may not be clear on how to execute the low level format.
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22674776
Why are you trying to do a low-level format?  That is rarely done and there's very little if any real need to do it.
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Expert Comment

ID: 22675060
You cannot low level format modern hard disks that use zone bit recording. What is commonly called a low level format is actually a zero fill. The WD Data Lifeguard Diagnostics has a zero fill option.

Zero fill writes the entire drive with zeros returning it to factory state erasing all data and partition information.
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Expert Comment

ID: 22676223
you can format it also from withing XP, or vista
connect the disk to the system
open disk management, and right-click the disk, now select initialise, then format
you can also do it from the XP install cd

but as asked - Why ?
if you want to completely erase the data, use DBAN :

Author Comment

ID: 22681424
Why, because I tried to reload a fresh copy of windows xp on this system Dell 4300s with a wd200bb hdd. It would load windows down to the point where it would say 9 minutes left and then just not go any further. My friend did not want to wait for me to fix it so she took it to a computer repair shop. They told her it needed a hdd. I thought I would try to low level format as a last chance effort before replacing the hdd. I beleive (not sure) I read about trying a low level or zero write for the same problem (stops with 9 minutes to go) on this website.

Willcomp, there is 3 "Data Lifeguard Diagnostics" one says dos floppy, dos cd, and windows. What is the difference between the 3? Sorry if that is a stupid question but I do not like to assume anything.
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Accepted Solution

willcomp earned 500 total points
ID: 22681551
DOS floppy or DOS CD is what you need. Floppy if you can boot from a floppy drive, CD otherwise. You can also download the UBCD which has WD Diagnostics as well as many other useful utilities.
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Expert Comment

by:Lee W, MVP
ID: 22681638
First, new hard drives are dirt cheap now.  Frankly, my time is worth more than the $55-65 a new drive would cost.  The shop may well have told her she needed a new drive because it's NOT economical to try to repair the existing one.  A seagate 250 GB drive with 5 year warranty is $55 including shipping at

Now, if you want to try to diagnose it for curiosity sake, then there are two things you can do:
1.  Run the manufacturer diagnostics (as previously suggested)
2.  Wipe the drive using DBAN (as previously suggested).

I did once encounter a system infected with some kind of virus that required a disk wipe (format wouldn't cut it) to get Windows installed on it.  

Also, you want to do a FULL format when you're installing windows - it could be there are bad sectors not marked as such on the drive.
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Expert Comment

ID: 22681961
I've had XP (and W2K) installs hang on drives with previous OS installs enough times that I now routinely wipe used drives before installing XP or W2K. All you have to do is start the zero fill or DBAN and walk away.

Do a full surface scan of disk after zero fill to ensure hard disk integrity.

Author Closing Comment

ID: 31504505
Thank You!

Expert Comment

ID: 23144577
leew - your time may be worth a considerable amount, whereas many people simply struggle to get by on what they you $55 is ten minutes, to this person $55 may be the better part of a week's take-home pay. if its too much bother for you then don't bother, there are others who are less inclined to bitch about helping the less fortunate, they probably need your derision less than they need your help.

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