About file systems and formats

Ivan Voras ivoras at fer.hr
Thu Mar 29 21:10:47 UTC 2007

Andrew Falanga wrote:
> Yesterday while working on a problem at work, a colleague and I were
> talking
> about the various file systems and something that I have always wondered on
> is what are the various file systems doing when a format is being done. 
> For
> example, at home, my PC has 2 80gb drives.  One for Windows and the other
> for FreeBSD.  It took Windows nearly an hour (give or take) to format the
> 80gb drive.  On the other hand, it took FreeBSD little more than 3 - 5
> minutes to format its 80gb drive.

This is too slow for the FreeBSD case. By default, Windows will do a
full format - in effect, will write zeroes all over the drive, with the
intent of checking if the drive is capable of it. Unix format (newfs)
will only initialize file system structures - in effect, will write out
(initially empty) file tables to the drive. This takes about 5-10
seconds on 250 GB drives, so 3-5 minutes you got is way too much.
There's no way of making newfs to the "checking" phase; there are
separate utilities for that.

> my colleague and I because there such a speed difference in formatting
> things (once windows is installed) when choosing between a "Quick
> Format" or
> a "Full Format".

Yes, Quick format will just write the file tables (this is simplified,
but you'll get the picture) on Windows, too.

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