Low Level Format VS Standard Format, What's the Differences and Which to Use?

Tracy King updated on May 16, 2024 | Home >Computer Instruction

Formatting is a hard disk operation that makes recovering data from the storage devices impossible as soon as the process is complete, something you might need to do if freely giving a hard disk or possibly discarding an old pc.

low level format vs standard format

That could include valuable and vital personal information. Let us take a more in-depth look and figure out how to go about this keenly, accurately, and smartly.

What Is Low Level Format

Low-level formatting (LLF) of hard disks (i.e., closest to the hardware) hits the surfaces of the disk with markers indicating the beginning of a recording block (usually these days referred to as sector markers) and different records like block CRC for use later, in regular operations, by the disk controller to examine or write data. Supposed to be the permanent basis of the disk and is regularly finished at the factory.

- by Wikipedia

Definition: Low-level format is a type of computer data storage. It is a low-level programming interface to the disk drive. Low-level formatting erases all information on the disk and prepares it for use.

A low-level format is a data storage format in which the bytes or bits representing the data are stored in a way that can easily convert back into the original form. The term "low-level" refers to the data's representation, not its actual storage location.

The term "low-level" is usually used to contrast with high-level formats, which typically provide more abstraction and functionality than their lower-level counterparts.

What Is Standard Format

Standard/High-level formatting is setting up an empty file system on a disk partition or a logical volume and, for PCs, installing a boot sector. Often a fast operation and is sometimes referred to as quick formatting.

Formatting an entire logical drive or partition may be optionally scanned for defects, which may take considerable time.

- by Wikipedia

Definition: Standard/High-level format is a kind of logical formatting. It targets installing a new or used USB/hard drive for computers/PCs and laptops with a brand-new file system format, along with NTFS, FAT32, exFAT, or different formats. The high-Level format is likewise called HLF, which is a process that cleans up all present data and recreates the data structure, permitting storage devices to keep and save documents on it safely.

Low-Level Format VS Standard Format, What Are the Differences?

So, what are the differences between Standard/high-level and low-level formatting?

Apart from the definition differences, high-level and low-level formatting also are different in many other aspects.

Let us dive into it: Standard-Level Format vs. Low-Level Format and What is the Difference here:

  • Low-level formatting refers to creating no assumptions approximately what is already there and making all partitions and many others from scratch. All sectors are checked and initialized in the process, which could take an extended time.
  • High-level formatting is a quicker mechanism that empties an already set up file device or many others and can rely on assumptions approximately what is already there.
  • Low-level formatting writes the bit styles that define tracks and blocks, mistakes correction code, and pads among blocks to a hard disk (or floppy). Today, this is usually performed within side the factory. There might still be low-level instructions to do it, but it may not be feasible without the unique device for today's hard drives. In the past, that turned into an essential step earlier than now will use the disk.
  • High-level formatting writes the document data structure to the disk. There are variants — the primary writes each block, zeroing out unused records blocks. The 2d writes the minimal amount, simply the file structure itself. The first may take hours or days; the second generally takes much less than a minute.

When to Use Low Level Format, and When to Use Standard Format

In this part, we will help you in mastering the operating mechanism of high-level and low-level formatting while running high-level or low-level formatting and how to use it.

When to Use Low-Level Format:

  1. 1. To Erase a disk and set its state again to the factory settings.
  2. 2. To Fix bad sectors on a drive.
  3. 3. Alternatively, when you want to manually format hard drives for a single purpose for many users.
  4. 4. When the storage devices are designed for portable devices, and are not concerned about proper storage layout and format.

So, you want the hard drive to be formatted with no control of the storage device. If you cannot change the directory and permissions for the hard drive, you can do so with the low-level format tool.

When to Use Standard Format:

  1. 1. If the disc is not entirely round, store it in the Standard Format. The disc is the same shape as the Blu-Rays that I use. Just as if you were not storing discs in HDDs, you would not need to change the volume, forward/reverse or format on a Blu-Ray while it was in Standard Format. However, if you are storing a hard drive in Standard Format, you would need to format it, or if Windows warns you (You need to format the disk in drive H: before you can use it).
  2. 2. The critical thing you need to know when storing Blu-Rays, DVDs, or other Blu-Ray discs is that they will start forming a hard drive, regardless of the format. That will cause damage to the media if you try to format it after it has warped or damaged. The only way to avoid this problem is to keep the media in Standard Format.
  3. 3. If you are storing a hard drive in Standard Format and you damage the media, you can usually fix it by disconnecting the hard drive and separating the two media.

All you need to do for Blu-Ray discs is remove the media from the hard drive. Then it should reform from the hard drive into Standard Format.

Low Level Format Tool Recommend

Low-Level Format Tool Recommendation we noted there were options for Virtual Hard Drive and Virtual Disk. Virtual Hard Drives and Virtual Disk are as minimal as Low-Level Format Tool Recommendations. However, Virtual Hard Drives and Virtual Disk are not at the bottom of this list. That is because Virtual Hard Drive and Virtual Disk could be beneficial for other uses like storing temporary files in a Virtual Hard Drive. However, the Low-Level Format Tool Recommendation is the lowest in terms of functionality. The advanced and powerful HDD Low-Level Format Tool may be an option if you want to format the entire drive.

Here is the list of 5 Low-Level Format Tools:

  1. 1. HDD Low-Level Format Tool
  2. 2. DISKPART
  3. 3. EaseUS Partition Master
  4. 4. Intel Memory and Storage Tool
  5. 5. Lowveld (low-level format tool)

Standard Format Tools Recommend

There is no category for Standard/High-Level Format Tool Recommendations. High-Level Format Tool Recommendations could be any number of tasks performed on the drive. However, we have listed several high-level studies for high-level formatting tools. High-Level Format Tool Recommendation might need more for some complex drive types. For example, a small single controller 2GB to 4GB hard drive might require a different high-level tool.

  1. 1. EaseUS Partition Master Free Edition

Free Download 

Windows 11/10/8/7100% Secure

  1. 2. Disk Management
  2. 3. File Explorer
  3. 4. USB Disk Storage Format Tool
  4. 5. Rufus


In this article, we have compared Standard/high-level and low-level formats, separately explained what Standard/high-level and low-level setups are.

Low-level formatting sounds messed up, but it is easy to format the storage devices. Please be careful when doing this, as you might destroy essential data forever. Lastly, I recommend HDD Low-Level Format Tool for Low-Level Formatting and Standard/High-level formatting EaseUS Partition Master Free.


Here are a few FAQs that may help you and solve your possible technical issues.

1. Should I format my SD card to a low level?

There are 2 ways to format an SD card. The first is to format it in a "low-level" format, and the second is to format it in a "quick format."

A low-level format erases all the data on the SD card, whereas quick formatting leaves everything on the SD card intact.

The benefit of low-level formatting is that it will help fix any errors or corruption on the SD card. If you want to eliminate any viruses or malware residing on the SD card, then you should use this method. However, if you are going to free up space on the SD card and do not care about any potential errors or corruption that may be happening, then you should use quick formatting instead.

2. When should you do a low-level format?

Low-level formatting is a process that is required to format a USB storage device. It is done by the operating system and not by the hardware.

The most common reason for the low-level formatting of a USB storage device is to remove any traces of data from it. That is typically done before giving it to someone else or using it for a different purpose.

You might want to do this for many reasons, but they all boil down to security and privacy concerns. Low-level formatting deletes all data on the drive, so no one can access the files without knowing the password or unlocking the h drive with another tool first.

3. Does low-level format erase all data?

The low-level format USB will overwrite all the data on the USB drive, including any files and folders you have saved. If you want to reuse a USB drive, you will need to low-level format it first.

The process of low-level formatting will remove all the data on the hard disk, so ensure that you back up all the essential information before proceeding with this process.

4. How do I low level format USB?

The low-level format is a powerful and thorough way to erase all data on a USB drive. It deletes not just the file system but also the partition table, FAT, and other information. that is the only way to remove the data for good.

  • Connect/select the USB/flash drive to the Pc/computer
  • Click "Start"
  • Type "cmd" in the search bar
  • Right-click "Command Prompt" and click "Run as Administrator"
  • Type "diskpart" in Command Prompt
  • Type "list disk" in Command Prompt and look for the USB drive number (It might be Disk 0)
  • Type "select disk X," replacing X with your USB drive number (Disk 0)
  • Type "clean" in Command Prompt where you replace X with your USB Drive number (Disk 0)

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Updated by Cici

Cici is the junior editor of the writing team of EaseUS. She accepted the systematic training on computers at EaseUS for over one year. Now, she wrote a lot of professional articles to help people resolve the issues of hard drive corruption, computer boot errors, and disk partition problems.

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Written by Tracy King

Tracy became a member of the EaseUS content team in 2013. Being a technical writer for over 10 years, she is enthusiastic about sharing tips to assist readers in resolving complex issues in disk management, file transfer, PC & Mac performance optimization, etc., like an expert.

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