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Formatting all HDDS and re Installing OS (I think I have a virus)

post #1 of 9
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Hi all,

Im just wondering what is the best way to do this. I am going to format all my HDDS and SSD's in my computer and start from scratch, I have never done this before and I think now would be the perfect time due to either having a virus or some strange performance issue I can't get rid of.

WHAT I HAVE DONE SO FAR:
Booted into windows disk
Deleted all 4 of my HDDS and my SSD
Reinstalled OS on SSD
Now formatting my other 4 HDDS in windows


Have I done this correctly and removed any virus I may have had?

My major concern is the my SSD which my OS is installed on, deleted that then re installed the OS VIA the windows disk, but it all happened so much faster then the time it has taken to reformat the other HDDS.

Have I done this the right way or was there a better way to do?
Do I need to go back and do anything again?
Should this solve any issues with a potential virus?

Cheers smile.gif
post #2 of 9

Formatting doesn't touch the data on the drives. It simply deletes the Master File Table which tells the operating system that the drive contains files and where they are located. If you do the formatting process that takes a long time, then what you're actually doing is you're having the drive scanned for errors before formatting. Formatting is a simple process where it creates a new Master File Table in the format that you specified - hence the name "formatting". An example of a specified format is NTFS.

 

Solid state drives are SIGNIFICANTLY faster than mechanical hard drives, so of course the formatting process will be much faster. It doesn't mean that less was done.

 

If you had a virus, then the 0s and 1s for that virus are still there, however, having a new (blank) Master File Table that tells the OS the drive doesn't have any files (even if it still does) allows the OS to overwrite ANYTHING that's still there because it can't "see" it. It doesn't know that the data is there. So, if you had a virus, then it's entirely possible that the 0s and 1s for that virus are now overwritten with new 0s and 1s from the installation. Or if not, then they will be.

 

To be honest, I would bet that you had a "bad" update from Windows Update. Or, maybe you have some other problem occurring like instability from an overclock. I don't know. Some of the best viruses allow the computer to remain perfectly stable so that the virus can do what it was designed to do. In other words, you can have a nasty computer virus and not know it. So it's possible that the problems you were experiencing had nothing to do with any kind of a virus.


Edited by TwoCables - 5/1/17 at 12:33pm
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post #3 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoCables View Post

Formatting doesn't touch the data on the drives. It simply deletes the Master File Table which tells the operating system that the drive contains files and where they are located. If you do the formatting process that takes a long time, then what you're actually doing is you're having the drive scanned for errors before formatting. Formatting is a simple process where it creates a new Master File Table in the format that you specified - hence the name "formatting". An example of a specified format is NTFS.

Solid state drives are SIGNIFICANTLY faster than mechanical hard drives, so of course the formatting process will be much faster. It doesn't mean that less was done.

If you had a virus, then the 0s and 1s for that virus are still there, however, having a new (blank) Master File Table that tells the OS the drive doesn't have any files (even if it still does) allows the OS to overwrite ANYTHING that's still there because it can't "see" it. It doesn't know that the data is there. So, if you had a virus, then it's entirely possible that the 0s and 1s for that virus are now overwritten with new 0s and 1s from the installation. Or if not, then they will be.

To be honest, I would bet that you had a "bad" update from Windows Update. Or, maybe you have some other problem occurring like instability from an overclock. I don't know. Some of the best viruses allow the computer to remain perfectly stable so that the virus can do what it was designed to do. In other words, you can have a nasty computer virus and not know it. So it's possible that the problems you were experiencing had nothing to do with any kind of a virus.
That's interesting information. I always thought that formatting rewrote a blank canvas, like all 1 or 0, or whatever a fresh drive is. I never thought a full reformat just scanned the stuff.


What about deleting the partition and redoing it? Does that delete (overwrite) all the old stuff?
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post #4 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by steadly2004 View Post


That's interesting information. I always thought that formatting rewrote a blank canvas, like all 1 or 0, or whatever a fresh drive is. I never thought a full reformat just scanned the stuff.


What about deleting the partition and redoing it? Does that delete (overwrite) all the old stuff?

 

I don't think so because writing 0s or 1s to an entire drive takes an extremely long time. I think the partition information might even be in the Master File Table.

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post #5 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoCables View Post

I don't think so because writing 0s or 1s to an entire drive takes an extremely long time. I think the partition information might even be in the Master File Table.
Ah, so again just lays waste to the very small first portion of the drive and leaves the rest in-tact. This thread prompted me to do a search. 😜 Looks like writing all 0's is possible but requires more than just windows to do. Getting that "low level format" going.
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post #6 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by steadly2004 View Post


Ah, so again just lays waste to the very small first portion of the drive and leaves the rest in-tact. This thread prompted me to do a search. 😜 Looks like writing all 0's is possible but requires more than just windows to do. Getting that "low level format" going.

 

Formatting means you are setting the format of the drive. It doesn't mean "erasing" or anything like that. I don't know how the words "format" and "formatting" came to be understood so incorrectly, but it simply means you are setting the format of the drive. For example: NTFS. All data remains, which is why data recovery after formatting a drive is possible.

 

There's something called the Master File Table. This tells the OS what's on the drive and where everything is. This Master File Table is always in a specific format. If it is replaced with a blank one, then the drive looks completely empty to an OS even if it's not.


Edited by TwoCables - 5/1/17 at 7:33pm
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post #7 of 9
What you are wanting to do, OP, is a secure erase. It takes just seconds on an SSD but a really long time on larger mechanical drives.
Check this for more info
Edited by bavarianblessed - 5/1/17 at 8:14pm
post #8 of 9

Insert Windows Boot CD (be it via CD or USB), boot from it, then when you say you want to install Windows you're asked where you want to install it. Simply select "format" for every drive, then press "delete" for every drive until you only see 1 entry for each harddrive. Then select the harddrive/SSD you want to install Windows on and click install.

 

That's it.

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post #9 of 9
Quote:
Originally Posted by TwoCables View Post

Formatting means you are setting the format of the drive. It doesn't mean "erasing" or anything like that. I don't know how the words "format" and "formatting" came to be understood so incorrectly, but it simply means you are setting the format of the drive. For example: NTFS. All data remains, which is why data recovery after formatting a drive is possible.

There's something called the Master File Table. This tells the OS what's on the drive and where everything is. This Master File Table is always in a specific format. If it is replaced with a blank one, then the drive looks completely empty to an OS even if it's not.
I understand. I do remember people using the term low level format many years ago. Apparently it's a bit of a misnomer referring to writing all zeros. But the process does usually occur with a format.

http://knowledge.seagate.com/articles/en_US/FAQ/203931en

And here

http://support.wdc.com/knowledgebase/answer.aspx?ID=1211

Both refer to the same thing.
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