How many times can we format an HD or an SSD?

This question hangs in the minds of many users. And there is a lot of mismatched information on the Internet about this subject. The PC Guide has already done an article about this, but as the question is recurring, we decided to revisit the file and help users conclude.

What is HD formatting?

According to Wikipedia, formatting is: preparing a magnetic medium so that it can receive data. There are two types of formatting: physical and logical.

Physical formatting is done at the factory, at the end of the HD manufacturing process. This formatting consists of dividing the blank hard disk into tracks, sectors, cylinders and isolating bad blocks. Physical formatting occurs only once in the lifetime of the hard drive and cannot be undone or redone using software running on the user’s machine. Specific programs and machines are used to do this at the equipment manufacturer.

In the case of the SSD, there is no physical formatting, as we are dealing with memories, which are organized in the form of a chip matrix where bytes can be stored.

The logical formatting is necessary for the hard drive to be recognized by the operating system. Unlike physical formatting, this does not change the physical structure of the disk. It is this type of formatting that we will deal with in this article.

How many times can I format my HD or SSD?

Logical formatting is not a special action that takes place inside the HD or SSD. It is a simple action of deleting and adding information. Formatting can be compared to deleting a folder of files and then copying a folder with new files to the same place. The only difference is the proportion, which, in this case, is much higher when it comes to formatting.

But is there any kind of wear caused by formatting? Yes, there is. The amount of wear on the SSD and HD is proportional to the amount of information read, copied, and deleted from it. In the case of HDDs, even if large amounts of data are written and read, the wear on the mechanical parts of the HDD and the magnetic surface is almost negligible. The useful life, in practice, is tens of years.

In the case of SSDs, the lifetime depends on the amount of data that can be written to the SSDs. Even the best SSDs have a limited amount of data that can be written/read on the memory chip matrix that makes them up. This amount is in the house of several Terabytes which makes, in practice, the useful life of a modern SSD is also in the house of tens of years.

Formatting an HD or an SSD is the same thing as copying several gigabytes of movies, music, and photos onto it. Just when you turn on your computer, the disk and operating system are already working on reading and writing information on the HD. So, in the case of the SSD, we should avoid unnecessary formatting, as this written data can shorten the life of the SSD. But don’t be alarmed, you’ll probably switch your SSD before it’s out of life.

So, we can conclude that there is no exact number of how many times you will be able to format your HD or SSD. What we can say is that formatting causes more wear on devices, just as a car suffers more wear on long journeys. But in the case of HD, this wear is minimal.

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