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Author Topic: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)  (Read 633 times)

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Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« on: July 07, 2009, 09:02:22 PM »
So, we're planning on nuking the hard drive on the infected computer, and I'm getting told by someone who works for Dell that Windows XP installation disks are able to zero-level format a 40Gb hard drive in 45 minutes.

This sounds to fast to me, but the last time I did a zero level was about 8 years ago, on a smaller drive, and it took a couple hours minimum.  So is my BS-meter giving me a false alarm, or can someone point me to the right utility that will reduce the data on the infected drive to a virtual plane of glass?

Online Vekseid

Re: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« Reply #1 on: July 07, 2009, 10:02:07 PM »
Computers have sped up in eight years, yes :-p

Any format +MBR wipe will pretty much do the job. In most cases you don't even need an MBR wipe.

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« Reply #2 on: July 07, 2009, 10:03:45 PM »
Good to know.  Wasn't really looking forward to a 5 hour format job, but I was anticipating it.

Online Vekseid

Re: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« Reply #3 on: July 07, 2009, 11:03:47 PM »
I should probably specify, disk controllers have sped up in eight years. Eight years ago PIO devices were just beginning to be obsoleted, and if you had a BIOS that insisted your HD was PIO 0, your disk was running at a fifth of its possible speed, and a forty-fifth of a SATA drive.

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« Reply #4 on: July 07, 2009, 11:10:35 PM »
Well, when it comes to third-hand tech advice (i.e., she tells me that the other person is a tech), I've learned to be suspicious - there was one person who told her that malware could survive a zero-level format, even after I specified that I was referring to the formatting that literally wrote '0' to every byte on the hard drive.

(We still plan on installing and running MBAM as the first thing after the OS.)

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Re: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2009, 11:46:28 PM »
MBR viruses may escape such a purge (though you can zero that out too, which is why I mentioned it) but they are rather rare these days.

There are also proof of concepts that load themselves into BIOS, but none are in the wild that I am aware of yet.

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« Reply #6 on: July 08, 2009, 12:21:58 AM »
I'm not sure how deep this thing is entrenched, but it 'eats' any antivirus program we've tried to run on it, even once we got past the 'every executable is infected' message, so I'm going to wipe the MBR just as overkill.

Offline GothicFires

Re: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« Reply #7 on: July 08, 2009, 06:50:14 AM »
reinstalling windows xp from scratch usually takes a two to three hours from beginning to end. That is from the format, the install and going through all the updates.

the main thing you want to make sure you have is the drivers to operate the specific hardware on the computer... at least the modem/ethernet card. That would be the one driver you can't connect to the internet and get after installation because it is the one you need to access your network/internet.

installing windows xp is really a breeze. i used to reformat my computers at least once a year to get rid of all the unnecessary drag that use brings. I think out of the 20 or so times that I have done it, only one has been because of a virus.

Offline OniyaTopic starter

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Re: Formatting question (hard drives, not text)
« Reply #8 on: July 08, 2009, 07:29:44 AM »
Considering that we have two other computers that can connect to the net (the infected one was isolated ASAP), and a CD burner on mine, drivers won't be a problem.  ;)