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AmigaOS 4.0 - About OS4 - Commands

FORMAT System Program
Purpose: To format a disk for use with the Amiga.
Format: FORMAT DEVICE | DRIVE <device> NAME <name> [OFS | FFS] [INTERNATIONAL | NOINTERNATIONAL] [<DIRCACHE |NODIRCACHE>] [LONGNAME] [NOICONS] [QUICK] [NOVERIFY] [REQ] [WIPE]
Template: DEVICE=DRIVE/K, NAME/K, OFS/S, FFS/S, INTL=INTERNATIONAL/S, NOINTL=NOINTERNATIONAL/S, DIRCACHE/S, NODIRCACHE/S, LN=LONGNAME/S, NOICONS/S
QUICK/S, NOVERIFY/S, REQ/S, WIPE/S
Path: SYS:System/Format
To format a disk, you must specify both the DEVICE and the NAME keywords. The name can be from one to thirty-one characters in length. If you include spaces in the name, it must be enclosed in double quotes.

The OFS option forces the disk to be formatted using the Old File System. This is the default for floppy disks. The FFS option results in the disk being formatted using the Fast File System. This can provide for faster operation than OFS disks, but the resulting disks cannot be shared with Classic Amigas with system software releases prior to 2.0. When viewed in Media Toolbox disks formatted using the FFS option and no other options will show as DOS\1 or DOS\01, with an identifier of '444F5301' (0x44, 0x4F, 0x53, 0x01) which means "plain Fast File System".

The INTL or INTERNATIONAL option forces the disk to be formatted using the international versions of the file systems. These international versions deal correctly with upper and lower letter case conversions of international characters in filenames. When viewed in Media Toolbox disks formatted using the FFS option and INTERNATIONAL but no other options will show as DOS\3 or DOS\03, with an identifier of '444F5303' (0x44, 0x4F, 0x53, 0x03) which means "Fast File System + International Mode".

The NOINTL or NOINTERNATIONAL option forces the non-international equivalent to OFS NOINTERNATIONAL for a floppy device, and FFS NOINTERNATIONAL for other devices.

The DIRCACHE and NODIRCACHE options specify whether you want to speed up the opening of drawers, file requesters, and listings by creating a directory cache. The option is off by default. Disks using Directory Cache are incompatible with Classic Amigas with system software releases prior to 3.0. The usage of this option (also known as 'DCFS' is strongly discouraged, for several reasons; performance gains over FFS are usually minimal but reliability is seriously impaired. Selecting the DIRCACHE option automatically selects the INTERNATIONAL option. When viewed in Media Toolbox disks formatted using the FFS option and DIRCACHE but no other options will show as DOS\5 or DOS\05, with an identifier of '444F5305' (0x44, 0x4F, 0x53, 0x05) which means "Fast File System + International Mode + Directory cache".

The LN or LONGNAME is new to AmigaOS 4.0's FFS2 and rather than the 30 character file name limitation of FFS1, allows file names up to 108 characters to be used. When viewed in Media Toolbox disks formatted using the FFS option and LONGNAME but no other options will show as DOS\7 or DOS\07, with an identifier of '444F5307' (0x44, 0x4F, 0x53, 0x07) which means "Fast File System + International Mode + Long File Names".

The NOICONS option prevents a Trashcan icon from being added to the newly formatted disk.

The QUICK option specifies that FORMAT will only format and create the root block (and track), the boot block (and track) and create the bitmap blocks. This is useful when reformatting a previously formatted floppy disk. Choosing the QUICK option is faster than formatting the entire disk, however it does not detect and read/write errors on the disk that could be eliminated by a full format.

The NOVERIFY option specifies that once the format is complete, you do not want FORMAT to read back the disk to verify that the format was successful.

When run from the shell, the FORMAT command defaults to perform its actions within that shell. However, if you want to invoke the command from the shell and still use the graphical user interface, use the REQ argument.

Initial requester to obtain device name.   Graphical user interface for Format.

Formatting a disk only prepares it to be used by a file system, which initializes it so that it appears as an empty volume. While this process alone makes the data previously stored on the disk unreadable by normal means, it does not render it inaccessible. Commercial data recovery services will still be able to recover data from a disk that has been formatted. In order to make recovery of sensitive data much harder, use the WIPE option which, in addition to formatting the disk, will perform up to 7 overwrite passes on each track of the disk using the United States Department of Defense 5220-22.M standard procedure. Use of the WIPE option disables the QUICK and NOVERIFY options. Please note that the WIPE operation implemented by the FORMAT command is suitable only for magnetic storage media, such as floppy disks or hard disk drives. To wipe optical, magneto-optical or solid state memory storage devices you would need a different method, which is not currently implemented by the FORMAT command.

Example 1:

3.OS4:> FORMAT DRIVE DF0: NAME EmptyDisk Formats the drive in DF0:, erases any data, and names the disk EmptyDisk.

Example 2:

3.OS4:> FORMAT DRIVE DF0: NAME NewDisk QUICK Reformats the control information on a disk that already contains data, and name the disk NewDisk.


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Disclaimer: Amiga Auckland have prepared the above information for the use of its members based on our experiences and as such is subject to revision at any time. Amiga Auckland cannot guarantee any of the information and cannot be held accountable for any issues that may result from using it.


Copyright 2006 Amiga Auckland Inc. All rights reserved.
Revised: February 9, 2006.