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The external hd I just bought comes with a bunch of crapware. Should I format it before use, or is it enough to just delete everything? Will it make a difference performance- or spacewise?

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It depends on which drive you bought, if it's one of those external drives that comes with software to "run your programs from the ext hdd", you may need to run one of the software removal tools that are vendor specific. If the HDD just has files, like the Western Digital automatic backup tools, you can just delete them and be good to go, it should be a standard NTFS/FAT volume. Performance wise - no real performance detriment to have those files on the drive, space wise - you'll just lose the space that it takes up (usually not much).

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Its what I do when I buy a new one. I back up the files on the disk just in case I regret formatting it, I found some of the software utilities in to be useful on some models.

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