Quick Format and Full Format

The Main Differences between Quick Format and Full Format

What is the difference between Format and Quick Format? Why do we have quick format option while formatting external drives? How is it different from formatting without selecting it? Do I need to full format a new Micro SD card, or is a quick format fine? These are some questions excerpted from www.quora.com.

Many users do not understand the difference between quick format and full format. In this post, I will elaborate on their differences from 3 aspects. Keep reading to distinguish them clearly.

1. Quick Format vs Full Format: What Do They Do?

When you use quick format to delete files, it just marks the partition as “formatted” and destroys the journal that keeps tracks of the files and their locations on hard drive. The computer can’t find the data anymore because it doesn’t have the index linked to the data.

However, the data still exists on the hard drive and you can recover it easily with any data recovery software, unless it is overwritten by new data.

As for full format, since Windows Vista, it will write zeros to the whole partition to erase original data. In this way, data can’t be recovered anymore, unless you send it to a professional lab. This may be the reason why some people are afraid of full format.

In addition, full format will not only erase data, but also scan partition for logical bad sectors. When it detects bad sectors, it will fix them automatically. That’s why full format is slower than quick format.

As for other functions, they are the same on the whole. For example, both they can rebuild the file system, volume label, and cluster size.

2. Quick Format vs Full Format: When to Use Them?

In general, common users can use quick format in daily work, because it is fast and enough to meet the demands. You can choose quick format when you clear partition with unnecessary files, install Windows, or fix error “You need to format the disk before you can use it. Do you want to format it now?”

However, in some cases, you MUST use full format. These cases mainly include the following scenarios: (a). the data on the hard drive too sensitive and you don’t want others to know it; (b). you decide to sell or donate the device; (c). you want to check the disk for bad sectors.

In addition, when you get a brand-new unformatted disk, or when the disk is old and has many bad sectors, you should also use full format.

If you want to sanitize data radically to make it unrecoverable, you can refer to this post: What Is Data Sanitization: Wipe vs Erase vs Format vs Delete.

3. Quick Format vs Full Format: How to Use Them?

Usually, you can perform quick format and full format through 3 ways: File Explorer, Disk Management, and Command prompt.

(1). Format a Disk with File Explorer

Open File Explorer. Then, under This PC, right-click the local disk you want to format. Form the context menu, choose Format and you will get the following picture.


Checking the box next to Quick Format means you are performing quick format. Unchecking it means full format.

(2). Format a Disk with Disk Management

Press “Windows + R” keys and then type “diskmgmt.msc” in the Run dialogue box. Then, hit Enter key to open Disk Management. Next, right click the partition you want to format and select Format from the context menu. You will get a picture as below:


Similarly, unchecking the box next to Perform a quick format means you are choose full format.

(3). Format a Disk with Command Prompt

Press “Windows + R” keys and type “cmd” in the Run dialogue. Then, hit Enter to open the Command Prompt window. Next, type “diskpart” into the cmd window and hit Enter to open diskpart window. After that, in the diskpart window, type “list disk“, “select disk *“, “list partition“, “select partition *” to locate the partition you want to fomrat.

Finally, type “format fs=ntfs quick” to carry out quick format, or type “format fs=ntfs” to perform full format.

I hope this post can help you. But if you want to know more about quick format vs full format, you can read this article: Quick Format VS Full Format [How to Choose For Data Security].

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