“What you got in that system?”
“An 850.”

“Oh. 850 MHz isn’t too bad these days.”

“No, the CPU’s a 750. The hard drive’s an 850.”

“Where’d you get an 850-gig drive?”

“Who said anything about gigs?”

Yeah, I put a computer together this week. I had problems with the hard drive. Bad problems. Like Windows won’t load anymore and it coughs up a hairball when I try to reformat the disk. Yeah. Bad news. So I sent in a clunky old Seagate 850-meg drive off the bench. Hey, I wanted to play Railroad Tycoon, alright?

Along the way I recalled a few tricks.

FORMAT C: /Q /U /AUTOTEST formats a hard drive as quickly as possible, no questions asked and none of that aggravating “saving unformat information” that takes a week and doesn’t work when you want to unformat the drive anyway.

FORMAT C: /U /AUTOTEST does an unconditional, no-questions-asked long format, but still faster than plain old format without switches.

But if you want to get a drive up and running really fast, use the GDISK utility that comes with Ghost (if you don’t have Ghost, you may be able to find an old version of GDISK online if you look hard enough, because at one time it was freely distributable):

GDISK 1 /MBR /WIPE will quickly delete all the partitions on a disk.
GDISK 1 /CRE /PRI /FOR /Q will create and format a single FAT32 partition so fast you’ll wonder what’s wrong with Microsoft. Reboot and you’re ready to rock’n’roll.

Well, as much as an 850 will let you rock’n’roll, that is. Which ain’t much. But I know I’ve got a decent hard drive around here somewhere. So I think I’ll go find it. I’ve had enough of this insanity.

And I still haven’t gotten in my game of Railtycoon.

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