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format
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(v) (1) To prepare a storage medium, usually a disk, for reading and writing. When you format a disk, the operating system erases all bookkeeping information on the disk, tests the disk to make sure all sectors are reliable, marks bad sectors (that is, those that are scratched), and creates internal address tables that it later uses to locate information. You must format a disk before you can use it.

Note that reformatting a disk does not erase the data on the disk, only the address tables. Do not panic, therefore, if you accidentally reformat a disk that has useful data. A computer specialist should be able to recover most, if not all, of the information on the disk. You can also buy programs that enable you to recover a disk yourself.

The previous discussion, however, applies only to high-level formats, the type of formats that most users execute. In addition, hard disks have a low-level format, which sets certain properties of the disk such as the interleave factor. The low-level format also determines what type of disk controller can access the disk (e.g., RLL or MFM).

Almost all hard disks that you purchase have already had a low-level format. It is not necessary, therefore, to perform a low-level format yourself unless you want to change the interleave factor or make the disk accessible by a different type of disk controller. Performing a low-level format erases all data on the disk.

(2) To specify the properties, particularly visible properties, of an object. For example, word processing applications allow you to format text, which involves specifying the font, alignment, margins, and other properties.

(n) A particular arrangement. Almost everything associated with computers has a format.



For internet.com pages about format, . Also, check out the following links!


More Information

  Data Conversion Laboratory home page
This company provides conversion services and software for publishers and documentation developers that support a variety of formats. Their home page provides links to these services, related Web links, and articles and white papers. Updated on Aug 3, 1998

  FlashPix format technology
Describes Kodak's FlashPix format technology and includes links to a primer, FAQ, sample pictures, and a developer tools. Updated on Aug 4, 1998

  Formatting 3.5 inch floppy disks
Provides information on determining disk capacity, formatting procedures, and consequences of wrongly formatted disks. Updated on Apr 19, 1998

  NetCDF format
Presents direct access to complete documentation, including FAQs, on netCDF (Network Common Data Form), a special machine-independent format used for representing scientific data. Updated on May 17, 1997

  OpenMath format homepage
Provides a description of OpenMath, a universal protocol for the exchange of mathematical data between programs. There are links to project information, reports, and workshops. Updated on Aug 2, 1997

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