How to Format NEW HDD and test it

Hi, i have a new 2TB HDD Western Digital Caviar Black (model Number: WD2002FAEX), and i want to use it with my EXTERNAL DOCK Thermaltake BlacX eSATA USB Docking Station (model numer: ST0005U)

At first i just want to use it to copy all my files from my 3 old computers, and then store it on a antistatic box on a shelf. aI will every now and then do some manual Backup if i have new files or folders in those old PCs.

The computers are all Windows XP. The main PC is XP 32 Bit Pro SP2, the second main one is XP 32 Bit Pro SP3, and the third one is XP 64bit PRo.

So the questions are:

1) right out of the box, how should i proceed with the NEW HDD? Should i just put it inside the DOCK Station, and then FORMAT IT?  And How should i FORMAT IT? Please give me a simple way to do it with windows own tools. A step by step will be much appreciated unless is so simple it does not need detailed explanation.

2) And AFTER doing the Format, what else should i do before i start Copying the files and folders from the old PCs? Should i do some TESTS  with some program or with something?

3) Will it make sense to do PARTITIONS on it? The HDD will only be used as i explained, for manually backing up and then have it on a shelf...

Who is Participating?
I wear a lot of hats...

"The solutions and answers provided on Experts Exchange have been extremely helpful to me over the last few years. I wear a lot of hats - Developer, Database Administrator, Help Desk, etc., so I know a lot of things but not a lot about one thing. Experts Exchange gives me answers from people who do know a lot about one thing, in a easy to use platform." -Todd S.

Seth SimmonsSr. Systems AdministratorCommented:
1) yes put it in the dock, connect it and format.  in control panel, open administrative tools then computer management.  on the left select disk management and it should open a window asking you to initialize the disk; click ok.  right click on anywhere on the disk (the area that has a black bar at the top) and select format.  select the options you want (drive letter, etc.) most other settings can stay default though suggest quick format to make it faster.  once it finishes it's ready for use

2) not necessary but if you want to copy a big file over to test copy speed and roughly estimate how long it might take to copy everything

3) i usually don't.  if you're just doing backups might be better to just leave as one 2tb partition so you don't run out of space if you make a partition too small

Experts Exchange Solution brought to you by

Your issues matter to us.

Facing a tech roadblock? Get the help and guidance you need from experienced professionals who care. Ask your question anytime, anywhere, with no hassle.

Start your 7-day free trial
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
1)Put into dock - initialize - format.

2)No tests are needed.

3)I would format it into two partitions. I do not dare to store all my data on a single partition. Because if the file system of this single partition goes bad then I am at loss. 2-3 partitions would be ok in your needs.
SandeepSr System AdministratorCommented:
1) Make sure your Docking Station is properly connected to the System. Insert the Hard Drive in the Docking Station. It should initialize it. You can verify it from Computer Management (Right Click on My Computer=>Manage=>Disk Management) You will be able to see the new HDD may be offline or waiting to initialize. Simply right click on the drive and select Initialize. Once intilization is done, make right click on the drive and select Format.

2) Simply use copy paste of any of the folder or try creating folder on it, that should be enough as testing.

3) I would suggest to keep the whole drive as single partition just because of making maximum use of the space. If you put partitions you will have limitation on putting any files in it which are bigger in chunks. If you have whole partition, you can put bigger files on it. But if you do not have such bigger single files data, then I would suggest to create Three partitions according to your choice for three PC you have, and accordingly backup the data on them. This will have some security as if any of the partition goes fail, you have atleast other partitions with their data in tact, if you use single partition there is risk of losing whole data. It is always good to have something in hand rather than nothing. Hope I have made my point clear :)
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Thanks a lot to all for your advice. I am going to proceed right now to format the drive, and i will let you know how this turns out.

As most of you adviced, i have decided to do 2 partitions. I think that will be enough.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
A bit of counterpoint ...

NO, that's not all you want to do.

Whenever you get a new drive, it's a good idea to test it for any "infant mortality" issues.    Drives can (and do) have issues even when brand new.

First, if you don't have it already, download and install Western Digital's Data Lifeguard for Windows.    The version here is fine:

Now run Data Lifeguard; highlight the new drive;  and do the following:

(a)  Click on the symbol where it says "Click to run tests"
(b)  Run the Quick Test
(c)  Run the Extended Test
(d)  Wipe the drive by clicking on Write Zeroes ... and choose the full write
(e)  Repeat the Quick Test and Extended Test

If you get ANY errors, return the drive for a replacement.

NOW you can initialize it; format it; and use it with confidence :-)
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
GARYCASE: thanks for this last advice Gary, i am glad i had to step out and i didnt started using the drive as i said in my last comment.

I will do right now what you suggested. I have downloaded the program.

But first i have a small doubt.  Following your step by step, should i just insert the HDD on the Dock and then RUN  Data Lifeguard, or do i have to FORMAT First?

Also, can i use this same program to test the internal drive on this computer? I dont know what brand of drive it is, but if in any case it is a SEAGATE, will it be also safe to test it with it, or better not?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
There's no need to format the drive first -- in fact, when you do the write zeroes, it's going to totally wipe out both the format and the initialized status ... so it doesn't matter.

Yes, Data Lifeguard works well for testing other drives as well -- its a good idea to test your internal drives also.   But do NOT do the Write Zeroes on a drive you're already using -- that completely wipes the drive.    You can, however, still do the Quick and Extended tests to check the drives for errors.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
And what happens if the TEST says that there are ERRORS on the drives? Does this program also fixes the errors, or do i have to use something else?  

If something like that happens, at least with the older drives i do not want to deal with warranty since i am not in USA...shipping them would be a headache and expensive...
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
GARYCASE: i runned the QUICK Test and everything came out OK. Then i selected the EXTENDED TEST and it has been running for more than 2 hours and the progress bar is only aorund 15%...It says there is an ESTIMATED TIME REMAINING of 16 hours!!!

Is this long time test normal for a 2 TB HDD? Will it be OK or safe if i Stop it if i needed it to? I do not think i can wait that much for it to finish...

How long do you think it will take for the ZEROS Writing Test that comes after this one?
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
That's normal for a large drive with just a USB interface (it would be much quicker if the drive was directly connected to a SATA port on the PC).    If you have to stop it, that's okay -- but I'd do it when you have the time just to be sure there aren't any issues with the drive.

The write zeroes will take a long time as well ... close to the same amount of time as the extended test.     ... and of course it will then take a long time again to do the 2nd extended test.

But these comprehensive tests will ensure that there are no issues with your drive before you start using it, so it's worth doing.
when i have to transfer data, or run a diag on a drive, i always connect it directly to a sata cable; it runs 3-5 x faster than over USB
also - the usb interface does not handle errors well
and as last point : be sure the external drive has it's own power (some systems don't provide enough power over usb)
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Agreed with Nobus. The USB is slow and the error handling via Test Diag tools is very bad when the drive is connected via USB.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Hi, the EXTENDED TEST just fiinished running and it PASSED OK with everything. I also did the WRITE ZEROS TEST, but only the QUICK one, and it passed also.  Perhaps i will run the Extended Write Zeros during the night.

Nobus and Noxcho: thanks a lot for the adidtional imput. Is a good tip. I will connect it now to an internal Sata Cable and power and run it again through there.

The USB dock has its own power adapter, so no problem with that, but i understand your point regarding "error handling" during diagnostivs via USB...

Thanks everybody.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
As I noted earlier ["... it would be much quicker if the drive was directly connected to a SATA port on the PC ..."],  it's certainly a good idea to use an internal port for the rest of the tests.

Note that only doing a quick write zeroes means you haven't actually written to every sector on the disk.    While that's good for resetting the disk to an un-initialized state, it does NOT test the drive nearly as thoroughly as a full write zeroes.

I'd connect it internally; then do a full write-zeroes;  and then do the Extended test again.
noxchoGlobal Support CoordinatorCommented:
Actually you've made this easy task too complicated. The drive would show the signs of errors at formatting if it had some problem. I mean if you use full format of created partitions.
No additional checks of the drive surface was needed. And the fact that the drive passed these checks today does not give you any kind of guarantee that the drive would not die tomorrow just on its own reason. So stop spending your time on this fuss and simply format it into 2-3 partitions and start using it.
In case it fails within the warranty period you will get it replaced by seller. Just make it a rule for yourself that important data must be duplicated on at least two storages. So when one dies you have the copy.
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
Whether or not you want to thoroughly test a drive before use is a personal choice.

But in my experience I've found quite a few drives that had "infant mortality" issues with the set of tests I outlined ... probably 10 drives out of ~ 100 or so I've purchased in the past several years.    ... and I've had NO failures of drives that passed those tests within the warranty period -- i.e. they last for a long time.

I HAVE had to replace a few drives under warranty that I had NOT done those tests on ... that's why I started doing that comprehensive set of tests.

One other point -- I don't know what supplier unrinoceronte uses [clearly not Newegg since he's not in the US], but if his supplier's policies are similar to Newegg's, then it's FAR easier to get a drive replaced during the supplier's return period than it is later under warranty.    For example, Newegg has a 30-day return period.    Identify a bad drive in that period, and there's no problem getting it replaced with a new drive.    Have a failure on day 31 (or later) and you get to RMA it to the driver manufacturer (i.e. WD, Seagate, etc.) ... and it will be replaced with a refurbished unit.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Ok, so at least on this case, i am more into the SAFE SIDE, and i decided to make all the tests possible. Garycase thanks for all your advice. Noxcho thanks also por your point, i understand it, but as i say, at least this time i want to try all this options out.

So, all the tests came out OK. but now:

IMPORTANT: i have the HDD installed insided the computer connected to the SATA 1port, and when i went to computer management/Disk Management, i got the following window:
, and in the text it says something about
"This wizard helps you initialize new disks and to convert empty basic disks to dynamic disks...etc etc"

I thought i only had to go straight and Format the Drive..., but should i Follow the steps in this Wizard or should i cancel and format through Disk Management?

Do i need to Convert the Disc into a DYNAMIC DISC? Rememeber that i only need this HDD to use it for Backups using my external Dock.


EDIT: OOPS, i just re-read all the first Answers and they mentioned the Initialize part...sorry.. But then what about Dynamic? should i do that?

EDIT 2: Never mind, i find out that Dynamc is for RAID.... So i proceeded and i am doing the Long FORMAT right now. I guess 5 or 6 hours from now to be ready as someone mentioned...
Gary CaseRetiredCommented:
You DO want to initialize the disk (you have to)
... you DO NOT want to convert it to Dynamic.

After it's initialized you simply create a partition and format it.
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
Hi everybody, thanks a lot for your help in this simple subject. Sorry it was difficult for me, but this was the 2nd time in my life i did this and the first one was so many years ago that i didnt remember anything about it.

So, to wrap up, since i wanted to be on the safe side (altough i understand also noxchos advice) i runned all the tests recommended and they passed OK.

The formatting took 6 hours, and right now i am manually backing up all my files from the 3 computers (These are the folders that i know will not change in all this year).

Then in a few months, i will "concentrate" all this files and folders in only one computer, and just keep one Normal Backup on this external drive.

Thanks very much for your help, this was very very useful and i learned important things regarding the HDD tests for "premature death" ...
unrinoceronteAuthor Commented:
LAST MINUTE NOTE:  I just figured out that i have a Problem with this drive, Computer Management and under "My computer" it shows that it only has a little more than half its capacity  for FREE SPACE, and i have not copied any files to it yet.  Please go to this other new question if you can:

New 2 TB HDD shows only 1020 GB Free Space

I dont know how could i missed this... FORMAT didnt reported any problem...
It's more than this solution.Get answers and train to solve all your tech problems - anytime, anywhere.Try it for free Edge Out The Competitionfor your dream job with proven skills and certifications.Get started today Stand Outas the employee with proven skills.Start learning today for free Move Your Career Forwardwith certification training in the latest technologies.Start your trial today
Storage Hardware

From novice to tech pro — start learning today.