I guess I’m being a rebel….By that I mean I’m not really following the prescribed format for this exercise, especially today. However, as justification, this is a process I usually do without thinking much about. I do think about whether or not to do it for months and try everything else possible first, but once the decision is made, I simply open the window, type the command and go do something else until it finishes. This morning, I am paying attention.
My office has two computers. The one I use all the time, that is password protected so other people can’t get on it without permission, and the “family” one. The latter one currently has major issues which demonstrate why mine is password protected. Today, I am reformatting it. It has two hard drives. I’ve started with the first one. It is 58% done.
I opened a command prompt window. A square box. Black background with a blue bar at the top and gray ones on the other three sides. The bar on the right is wider with a slider tab. On the black screen are two lines of text proclaiming Microsoft’s ownership of the operating system and listing the version. Below that is a C: prompt, waiting. I type onto the line: format D: (Because the machine has two drives and I want to clear everything off both of them. C: is where the operating system lives, so I started with the data drive.)
A message came up: “The type of file system is NTFS.
Warning all data on the non-removable disk Drive D: will be lost! Proceed with Format (Y/N)?”
I have thought about this for several weeks, and normally I’d just go ahead, but today I consider the meaning of the sentence and the reasons for this action. The machine is infested with malware. It frequently locks up and has to be restarted to free it. We had it in the shop recently to be cleaned up, but it still isn’t working properly. This is the next step before I try replacing hardware. The format procedure simply writes over the whole disk. It puts markers to tell the system what file type to use. If it finds bad sectors, it will also repair those.
Of course, in reality I know the data will still be there, buried below the overwrite that is about to happen. A professional with the correct tools would be able to recover it, if necessary. I also know, in this case, it won’t be.
I typed a “y” and hit enter. Now it’s a matter of waiting……81 per cent done.
When it finishes, I’ll start the process on the C: drive. Then I will spend the afternoon reinstalling the operating system which will probably require a call the the Microsoft service center (somewhere that has no native born English speakers) since the operating system is still XP and has been reinstalled several times. This machine is almost an antique. We built it in 2003 or maybe 2002. In either case, ten years, probably something like 100 in human terms. Amazing that it still works at all.