I use 14.04 and I have 2 physical partitions, one of 243Gb and another of rest of 500Gb.

I want to format the partition of 243Gb using Disks (Open dash and type disks). This partition contains another Ubuntu OS but its damaged so I want to format that partition.

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In Disks s/w when I click on more options it shows me one option to format. But when I click it it pops another window.

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and here I'm confused.

What are these three options?

1. Erase has 2 options

1. Don't overwrite existing data (quick)
2. Overwrite existing data with zeros (slow)

What should I choose here 1st or 2nd? If I choose 2nd option, what data will be overwritten? Will it format partition of 243Gb and merge it with my another physical partition?

2. Type shows me various file system options

What should I choose ext4 or ntfs or fat?

3. And what is the last Names?

  • 3
    YOu're asking many questions. – Thomas Ward Feb 4 '15 at 15:05
  • yup but it could be easy to answer if you know how to format using disks. @ThomasW. – Apurva Feb 4 '15 at 15:06
  • true, however, it's still a case of lots of questions. My answer is below. – Thomas Ward Feb 4 '15 at 15:09

Firstly, the "partition merging" question you ask. There is no "merging" of partitions - the actual 'merging' involves deleting a partition completely and then manually expanding the partition (in layman's terms). Because there is no 'merging' of partitions, your question on it is going to be answered with a "No, there will be no merging of partitions". I do not reference merging later on in this question because there is no real 'merging' of partitions.

As well, in the original quesiton, you actually have only two physical partitions: the 234GB one, and the "Extended Partition" - inside the "Extended Partition", the partitions are logical, not physical.

If you want to expand an existing partition, then you have to have free disk space adjacent to the partition you want to expand on the disk. You would have to delete the existing partition, and either expand your "Extended Partition" to take up the free space (then move the partitions around inside the extended partition in order to resize whichever of the partitions you want to expand).

The breakdown of what is what on that window is as follows:

(1) Erase - This is just deciding how you want to format.

  • Quick just nukes the beginning part of the partition which defines what is where on the disk, but leaves the actual content of the rest of the data in the partition intact. If you forensically examine the disk data with a hex editor, and the right tools, the data can be retrieved fairly easily unless data has started to write to the partition. (Then, most can be recovered, depending on how much data has been overwritten).
    • Use this if you do not believe the disk has bad sectors.
  • If you use the slow method, it fills the 243GB partition completely with zeros (at the byte level) before creating a new partition. Done correctly this can literally destroy the data that was in the partition. (This is effectively how brand new hard drives come - completely filled with zeros, except perhaps for the boot record section, which is not relevant to this question)
    • Use this option if you believe the disk has bad sectors and is the cause of the damaged Ubuntu installation.

(2) Type is the filesystem you want. Choose this based on compatibility with other OSes if you have more than just Linux on your system. If this is an Ubuntu only install then use either ext4 or fat32 depending on your needs (which is based on the size of the files you're storing there). (NOTE: These descriptions are better worded in the window on the 14.04+ version of the 'Disks' utility)

  • ext4 is Linux compatible, and prevents Windows/Mac compatibility (for the most part).
  • ntfs is Windows and Linux compatible (but does not work nicely with Macs). If you need a lot of data storage and Windows compatibility, use ntfs
  • fat is actually fat32 format. This format is compatible everywhere on most every device, but only supports files up to 4GB in size. fat32 is also able to support partitions up to 32GB in size, but any larger will not be supported.

(3) Name is just the label on the disk. Name it whatever you want but keep it relatively short (9 - 10 characters at most). (This is how you can name Flash Drives - by applying a short label to the disk. Same applies to actual hard drives too. It's mainly just for show or to give you a description of what the disk is for.)

  • FAT32 can support partitions up to 32 GB in size and FAT can support up to 4 GB. – Mudit Kapil Feb 4 '15 at 18:44
  • 1
    @Mudit Partly right, partly wrong. FAT32 can support partitions up to 32GB in size. fat32 is pretty much 'standard FAT' nowadays (confirmed in formatting my test drive as 'FAT' with 14.04 disks util, and it created it in fat32 - the 32bit FAT). It has an individual filesize limitation of 4GB max for a file. I improved upon your edit. – Thomas Ward Feb 4 '15 at 19:19

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