Quick Format vs Full Format- What's the Difference?

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Whenever you format a disk, pen drive, or memory card, the computer prompts for a quick format or a full format. Most of the time, users blindly select an option, whereas there are huge differences between the two. If you are curious to learn the differences between a Quick format and a Full format, then you have come to the right place. Let’s discuss this in detail below.

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Disk Formatting: What is it?

In General terms, formatting is referred to preparing a storage device for utilization by creating organizational structures to store data according to the user's needs efficiently. A storage device must be formatted once before use and can be formatted again if the user wishes to erase all its contents and start afresh.

In other words, your computer stores information like a library stores books. A library labels and stores the books alphabetically, according to the genre, author, etc. With this system, your computer can quickly locate any book in the building when required.

In Quick Format, your computer will erase all the signs, labels, shelf numbers, and book covers, after which the new signs and labels get replaced. Your computer will consider the library empty even though the books are still present. The book locations will be considered empty until the old book is replaced with a new book.
So after a quick format, the data is still recoverable with exceptional help as the books are still in the library.

A full Format is very similar to a Quick format, except in Full Format, all the original books are given away and replaced with dummy books, so there is no way to retrieve any original information unless you seek professional help.

There are 2 types of formatting processes-

1. Quick Formatting

2. Full Formatting

We shall learn more about them and their differences in the table below-

The Difference Between Full and Quick Formatting

AspectQuick FormattingFull Formatting
DescriptionThe data location markers are erased, and the data is considered to be deleted. The partition table is rebuilt, and the file system is replaced. In simple terms, the data is still present, but the location of the data is deleted, and the sectors storing the data are considered empty until overwritten with new data.Files are eliminated/erased (all data is overwritten to prevent data recovery), and the drive is additionally scanned for bad sectors. In other words, it makes the original data illegible to prevent recovery.
Chances of Data RecoveryData becomes inaccessible for a user but remains on the drive and can be recovered with the help of a special data restore program.All data is cleared from the storage and will be difficult to restore.
Time TakenLess time is taken as file system information is deleted, and the file allocation table is cleared.Takes longer (almost twice as long) as the entire storage device is scanned for bad sectors, all data is erased, and file systems are rebuilt.
UtilityPrimarily used to free up space on your system.Used when the goal is to erase data or eliminate viruses and bad sectors permanently.

When to Consider Formatting?

  • To make use of a new drive
    When a storage device or drive is being used for the first time, it needs to be formatted so that data can be organized and efficiently.
  • To reinstall an operating system
    If you experience frequent issues with your Operating system, be it Windows, Ubuntu, Linux, etc. Formatting your drive be able to give your operating system a fresh start.
  • Replace the file system or alter the drive size.
    Some users may require their data to be stored in a specific manner within a drive, may even require more space, or would like to divide their drive into two distinguishable sectors. Formatting can make all of it possible.
  • Get rid of viruses and corruption.
    Dangerous Viruses may attack and damage the integrity of your file system, causing unexplainable errors. Formatting will help eliminate viruses and replace your corrupted file system with a healthy one.
  • Regain access to a drive.
    A drive may be rendered unusable if the file system is severely damaged or incompatible with your computer's Operating system. Formatting your drive can restore a user's access in such a case.
  • To split a drive
    A user may split a drive for several reasons. But it can help protect, store, or even hide different types of data. You can do so via formatting.
  • Wipe a drive
    Before giving away or disposing of an old laptop, It is advisable to format your drive beforehand to ensure that your private data does not get leaked.

How to Format Your Disk (Using Quick and Full Formatting)

If you wish to Quick Format or Full Format your disk, there are two approaches that you can take-

Note: In case your need to recover your data after formatting, It would be advisable to use data recovery software such as Remo Recover.

Method 1: Windows File Explorer

Step 1: Open Windows File Explorer and double-click on a local disk that you wish to format.

Step 2: Select the Quick Format box if you wish to perform a Quick Format. Leave it unchecked if you want to perform a Full Format. Step 3: Click on Start.


Step 3: Click on Start.

Method 2: Disk Management

Step 1: Use Windows + R to launch the Run Command and type "diskmgmt.msc.".


Step 2: Right-click on the partition you wish to format and select Format.


Step 3: Select the Perform a quick format box to perform a Quick Format. Leave it unchecked if you wish to perform a Full Format.


Step 4: Click on OK.


As this article comes to an end, we hope that you were able to find the answers you came looking for. If you, by chance, accidentally lose access to important data while formatting, We recommend that you make use of professional data recovery software such as Remo Recover. Before formatting, always make sure to take a backup of all your data to avoid any risk.

About the Author: John Harris

With a decade of experience in data recovery, John Harris, Senior Editor at Remo Software, is your go-to specialist. His focus includes partition management, Windows solutions, and data troubleshooting, delivering insightful content that serves both users and search engines. John's expertise shines through in illuminating blog posts, untangling data loss intricacies across diverse storage platforms.…