Format144 – the /u switch

Several people wrote to me saying that standard Windows Format supports switch /U that does the same thing as Format144, and I would like to clarify the issue.

First of all, /u switch is not present in Windows 2000 Format help page, shown below:

F:\\Documents and Settings\\Administrator>format /?
Formats a disk for use with Windows 2000.

FORMAT volume [/FS:file-system] [/V:label] [/Q] [/A:size] [/C] [/X]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/F:size]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/T:tracks /N:sectors]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/1] [/4]
FORMAT volume [/Q] [/1] [/4] [/8]

  volume          Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon),
                  mount point, or volume name.
  /FS:filesystem  Specifies the type of the file system (FAT, FAT32, or NTFS).
  /V:label        Specifies the volume label.
  /Q              Performs a quick format.
  /C              Files created on the new volume will be compressed by
                  default.
  /X              Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary.  All opened
                  handles to the volume would no longer be valid.
  /A:size         Overrides the default allocation unit size. Default settings
                  are strongly recommended for general use.
                  NTFS supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K.
                  FAT supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                  (128K, 256K for sector size > 512 bytes).
                  FAT32 supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                  (128K, 256K for sector size > 512 bytes).

                      Note that the FAT and FAT32 files systems impose the
                  following restrictions on the number of clusters on a volume:

                  FAT: Number of clusters <= 65526
                  FAT32: 65526 < Number of clusters < 268435446

                  Format will immediately stop processing if it decides that
                  the above requirements cannot be met using the specified
                  cluster size.

                  NTFS compression is not supported for allocation unit sizes
                  above 4096.
  /F:size         Specifies the size of the floppy disk to format (160,
                  180, 320, 360, 640, 720, 1.2, 1.23, 1.44, 2.88, or 20.8).
  /T:tracks       Specifies the number of tracks per disk side.
  /N:sectors      Specifies the number of sectors per track.
  /1              Formats a single side of a floppy disk.
  /4              Formats a 5.25-inch 360K floppy disk in a
                  high-density drive.
  /8              Formats eight sectors per track.

Same in Windows XP:

C:\\>format /?
Formats a disk for use with Windows XP.

FORMAT volume [/FS:file-system] [/V:label] [/Q] [/A:size] [/C] [/X]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/F:size]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q] [/T:tracks /N:sectors]
FORMAT volume [/V:label] [/Q]
FORMAT volume [/Q]

  volume          Specifies the drive letter (followed by a colon),
                  mount point, or volume name.
  /FS:filesystem  Specifies the type of the file system (FAT, FAT32, or NTFS).
  /V:label        Specifies the volume label.
  /Q              Performs a quick format.
  /C              NTFS only: Files created on the new volume will be compressed
                  by default.
  /X              Forces the volume to dismount first if necessary.  All opened
                  handles to the volume would no longer be valid.
  /A:size         Overrides the default allocation unit size. Default settings
                  are strongly recommended for general use.
                  NTFS supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K.
                  FAT supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                  (128K, 256K for sector size > 512 bytes).
                  FAT32 supports 512, 1024, 2048, 4096, 8192, 16K, 32K, 64K,
                  (128K, 256K for sector size > 512 bytes).

                  Note that the FAT and FAT32 files systems impose the
                  following restrictions on the number of clusters on a volume:

                  FAT: Number of clusters <= 65526
                  FAT32: 65526 < Number of clusters < 4177918

                  Format will immediately stop processing if it decides that
                  the above requirements cannot be met using the specified
                  cluster size.

                  NTFS compression is not supported for allocation unit sizes
                  above 4096.

  /F:size         Specifies the size of the floppy disk to format (1.44)
  /T:tracks       Specifies the number of tracks per disk side.
  /N:sectors      Specifies the number of sectors per track.

Format complains when an invalid switch is specified:

F:\\Documents and Settings\\Administrator>format /r
Invalid parameter - /r

But it appears to be just fine with /u:

F:\\Documents and Settings\\Administrator>format /u
Required parameter missing -

From my experience, specifying /u does not change Format behavior in any way.

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