The operating system is responsible for several other aspects of disk management
A new magnetic disk is a blank slate: it is just a platter of a magnetic recording material. Before a disk can store data, it must be divided into sectors that the disk controller can read and write. This process is called low-level formatting, or physical formatting. Low-level formatting fills the disk with a special data structure for each sector.
The data structure for a sector typically consists of a header, a data area (usually 512 bytes in size), and a trailer. The header and trailer contain information used by the disk controller, such as a sector number and an error-correcting code (ECC).
When the controller writes a sector of data during normal I/O, the ECC is updated with a value calculated from all the bytes in the data area. When the sector is read, the ECC is recalculated and compared with the stored value. If the stored and calculated numbers are different, this mismatch indicates that the data area of the sector has become corrupted and that the disk sector may be bad
The ECC is an error-correcting code because it contains enough information, if only a few bits of data have been corrupted, to enable the controller to identify which bits have changed and calculate what their correct values should be. It then reports a recoverable soft error. The controller automatically does the ECC processing whenever a sector is read or written.
For most computers, the bootstrap is stored in read-only memory (ROM). This location is convenient, because ROM needs no initialization and is at a fixed location that the processor can start executing when powered up or reset. And, since ROM is read only, it cannot be infected by a computer virus. The problem is that changing this bootstrap code requires changing the ROM hardware chips. For this reason, most systems store a tiny bootstrap loader program in the boot ROM whose only job is to bring in a full bootstrap program from disk. The full bootstrap program can be changed easily: a new version is simply written onto the disk. The full bootstrap program is stored in the “boot blocks” at a fixed location on the disk. A disk that has a boot partition is called a boot disk or system disk