USB External Drive took too long to format in XP

By toocan
Aug 7, 2006
  1. I purchased a Silverstone MS01 external USB hard drive case and fitted a Hitachi HDS725050KLAT80 (500 GB IDE-ATA) hard drive in the case. After installing the software and drivers provided by Silverstone, I connected the case to my IBM 8183-GNU Thinkcentre running XP Pro. The computer "saw" the drive OK and it showed up as Disk 1 in disk management. I commenced a normal format on it and it apparently started formatting OK. Not knowing how long such a large HD would take on USB, I let it run...4 hours turned into 10 hours and I finally stopped it at about the 20 hour point. At one time during a look on it about the 17 hour point the "Formatting..." status had become "Formatting (2%)" I didn't think this was normal so I stopped it at the 20 hour point as mentioned above.

    I took the drive case and plugged it to my "test stand" computer running Win 2000 Pro on FAT32 filesystems and started a normal format there. Again it looked like nothing was really happening so I cancelled and tried Quick Format. That took about 30 seconds and then the drive was there in Explorer with a letter and chkdsk revealed all to be OK. I thereupon copied about 30 GB worth of files to it which went OK.

    I moved the drive back to my IBM, plugged it, XP saw it and then copied about 190 GB of files there to it-all seemed OK and chkdsk on that machine also revealed all OK.

    What the heck happened? Why did normal format take so long and never even finish? Why was quick format so quick? Like I say, the drive seems OK but I am not 100% sure.
  2. jobeard

    jobeard TS Ambassador Posts: 11,167   +986

    normally this would cause a disaster.

    QUICK format only rewrites the FAT table (placing everything on the free list)
    and leaves the blocks alone. You got away with this because the drive was preformated when you received it.

    under normal circumstances, the sequence of events would be
    1. partition the hd (if necessary or desired)
    2. full format each partition
    A QUICK format can be used IF a full formate was done at least once, and
    you wish to trust the Bad Block List {none on flash drive :) } and free all the space
  3. toocan

    toocan TS Rookie Topic Starter

    Yes, maybe I got lucky but it still doesn't explain why the normal format was taking so long. When I formatted a 250 gig partition on the SATA drive in the IBM, it took about an hour. USB 2.0 isn't that much slower is it? I don't know for sure if the drive was preformatted-do they ship this way? And if it was, why didn't it show up this way when first connected to the computer?
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