I'm kind of at a situation where I'm having to do a low level format for my 1 TB WD external hard disk drive.

Earlier, I tried all possible ways of formatting it but it just would not get formatted. Hence low level formatting. I'm using HDD Low level format tool version 4.4 for formatting.

The problem that I'm facing is that it is doing the format at an awfully slow pace. With the current speed that I'm getting, it is going to take close to 290 days (Yes 'Days'. Just did a quick calculation) which, at least in my opinion, is insane.

Can someone please let me know how long does a low level format generally take?

Additional Information :

  1. Using WD External 1 TB hard disk.
  2. Connected to USB 3.0 port using hard drive's cable.
  3. OS - Windows 8.1

Assuming the USB is capable of actually maintaing the speed, then even the free version of that tool should take about 6 hours... so I'd guess it's struggling somewhat.
You've 3 choices - wait it out, however long it takes; or cancel, if that's even an option. 3rd choice is to hard-end the task; which has its own risks of potential damage to the drive.

I'd leave it at least overnight if not two, just in case it's found a swathe of bad blocks & is being thorough in mapping them out. It would also give you time to see if the 9 month wait is accurate or the process just has a bad case of thermometeritis, i.e., no clue how long it will take.

If you decide to pull the plug, cancel etc, then I'd run WD's own diagnostic over the drive anyway - http://support.wdc.com/product/download.asp?groupid=111&sid=3&lang=en

  • Yeah I will be leaving my pc running for a day or two just in case. After that I'll run the tool. But will the tool detect the HDD? Since it is now partially low level formatted right? So will the WD diagnostics tool be able to detect it? – Amogh Natu Sep 2 '14 at 18:23
  • It ought to recognise one of its own, yes... I think. I've only ever used it a couple of times - usually to confirm what I already suspected... one for the trash... – Tetsujin Sep 2 '14 at 18:29
  • As you said, I let it run through the night. In the morning I saw that the low level format tool was not responding. So I plugged out the HDD and connected it to another laptop. There I tried to partition and then format it using disk management utility and guess what, it worked! Now I'm able to detect it properly in my pc. Only thing is, the Read/Write speed has gone down terribly. But I guess I can work with it for now. Thank you so much for your answer. – Amogh Natu Sep 3 '14 at 6:59
  • Glad you got somewhere with it. I'd still run the WD diagnostic, see what it finds – Tetsujin Sep 3 '14 at 7:00
  • Yes will do that in sometime :-) – Amogh Natu Sep 3 '14 at 7:01

I got My 1 TB western digital 3.5" formatted in 2.5 hours. If you have a 1TB 2.5" 5400 Rpm then it may take upto 5 hours.


I spent 7 hours (it paused a couple times) transferring 1 TB worth of data and now I am formatting. I had to use USB 2.0 for the transfer and this too is taking 7 or so hours.

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