Format C:

By on October 28, 2004

You’ve heard about it. You’ve told clueless people to do it. You’ve feared the virus that might do it for you. But what really happens when you pull up a command prompt and type ‘format C:’? Jonathan Hohle finds out.

I made a goal for myself to find out what would happen if I ran “format c:” on a freshly installed Windows system and decided to compare it to the equally notorious “rm -Rf /” in Linux. Besides noting how effectively I could trash the system, I wanted to see how the operating system responded, and what it took to be able to destroy the system. I know that “format c:” and “rm -Rf /” aren’t equivelent[sic], but they usually are interchangeable punchlines to jokes, which is why they were chosen.

Pretty good article. Includes step-by-steps that you should never repeat.

Via OSNews.



  1. Mac OS 9 and earlier was pretty smart about not letting clueless users do dumb stuff that would hose the system — it won’t let you initialize a boot volume, and won’t let you trash the System Folder — but there’s always a fool that can get around a foolproof system.

    Once I was helping one of the users at work, and needed an app that was on the drive of my computer (an OS 9 Mac), so I mounted the hard drive on the desktop, did the deed, and went back to my computer. Forgot to unmount my drive from her desktop. A while later, some things stopped working, and it seemed that a bunch of necessary files were missing from the System Folder. Turned out that she had, for some inexplicable reason, deleted my System Folder and tried to empty the trash. Of course, some of the files were busy, so it wouldn’t delete everything, but it still hosed my system pretty well. With this particular user, I knew it was accidental.

  2. It’s got nothing to do with the Internet —

    It’s Latin for (I believe), “as it was.” You see it when someone is quoting someone else. It essentially means, “there is a typo or mistake here, but I just want you to know if was in the original text, not my my re-typing of it.”

    In the quote above, he misspelled a word and the quoter was point it out. On the one hand it can be helpful, but on the other it can be a snippy way to make someone look dumb.

  3. “In the quote above, he misspelled a word and the quoter was point it out.[sic]”

    There’s another good example.

    I’ve used [sic] twice now. Once to note a spelling aberration without changing the original quote, and once to make fun of someone.

    Can you spot which is which? =)

  4. that whole [sic] thing is a godsend. i don’t know how many time’s i’ve read it in magazines and articles and didn’t know. and i tried searching google and whatnot, to no avail … then, on one random night, i click some random link and the off-topic thread is based entirely around my question.

    thank you all.

    you’ve made my day, or evening rather.

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