If you use a computer often, you must have heard about the USB drive. When was the last time you formatted yours? Formatting a USB drive does not only clean up unnecessary files, but it can also fix some file storing issues and help you get rid of any malware. In this article, we discussed how to format your USB drive in various file formats for your Windows, Mac, or PS4 devices. Let’s walk you through the process.
What is a USB Drive
Modern computers have a USB port for connecting cables for communication, power supply, or simply connecting peripherals and storage devices. Micro and mini USB drives use the facility of a USB port to store and transfer data. It is mostly readable, writable and most of all, portable. USB 2.0 and 3.0 serve the same functions with differences in speed and can be used with adapters like the HDMI for different purposes.
Most of them come with 8 to 256 gigabytes of flash storage while 512 gigabytes and 1/4/8 terabyte are also available. You might have enjoyed its fast and easy transfer process and portable storage facility, but you didn’t notice how lots and lots of unnecessary files pile up in your USB drive. It’s time for you to format yours. You can also increase the drive size.
Why Formatting a USB Drive?
The USB drive is such an essential in our daily life, some of us don’t even think of formatting it. You will be amazed to know that formatting your USB drive may bring a lot of benefits. First of all, formatting cleans storage and upgrade your storage experience. The full capacity of the drive is restored which can optimize performance.
It allows you to change the file format and security settings to make your USB drive compatible with other devices you use. Formatting also lets you get rid of any unnecessary data or malicious code that may cause harm by USB to your computer. So, what are you waiting for? You can also format a write-protected USB.
Things to Take into Consideration Before Formatting a USB Drive
You don’t have to be a tech genius to format your USB drive. Well, the process is quite simple. Check the following.
- Storage Capacity: Storage capacity of a USB drive is important to choose the file format system when it comes to formatting. Mostly USB drive with 8 to 32 GB flash storage is available in which any file format can be applied. If the storage capacity is larger than 32 GB, choose file format according to your need.
- File Allocation: File format systems arranges data in certain ways and stores them in segments. Generally, people chose their file system depending on the capacity and performance of different types of USB drives. The 4 types of file format- NTFS, FAT, FAT32, and exFAT work in different ways. While formatting USB drive, you will see all the 4 options if your drive is smaller then 32 GB. When it is larger than 32 GB you will only find NTFS and exFAT.
- Back up: After the formatting process, all data of your USB drive will be lost. So, make sure to back up all the data or check for necessary data to back up.
Choosing File Format
File allocation plays an important role when it comes to storage format. When you connect your USB drive to your and click on the format option, which we will show you, later on, you will find some options to choose from file systems like NTFS, FAT, FAT32, and exFAT. You may wonder what they are and why you need them. Well, I am going to tell you in brief.
- FAT or File Allocation Table is set in most devices by default because it is the most compatible. Almost all the devices you use, support the FAT file format. When your prime pick is compatibility and your USB storage is under 32 GB, then FAT is best suited for you. However, FAT doesn’t support storage larger 32 GB in Windows and it is less secure than other options as the data is not encrypted.
- FAT32 is almost like FAT but a bit advanced. It is more secure with backing up the boot sector. Is supports data up to 2 TB but in Windows, it supports up to 32 GB. But you get the extra advantage of formatting your USB drive larger than 32 GB using a separate tool. We will discuss it elaborately later on in this article.
- In case you are dealing with an internal hard drive in the Windows operating system, you will need the NTFS (New Technology File System) file format system. It handles data effectively with ease. However, one of the major drawbacks is its limitation in compatibility except for the modern Windows operating system.
- exFAT can be a great choice when it comes to large files. The well-built features of NTFS and FAT are extracted here. In performance and compatibility, it is superior to other file formats.
Format USB Drive on Windows 10
Formatting your USB drive in windows is a fairly easy process, and for various versions of Windows, the process is almost the same. To format your USB memory for your digital camera or USB thumb drive, simply follow the steps.
- Connect the USB drive to your computer using a USB port. A pop-up window will appear showing your drive.
- Go to start and open ‘My PC’. Right-click on the option saying your drive name under the ‘Devices and drivers’ section. Select the option ‘Format’.
- Another window will appear, where you will find several drops down menu items. From the ‘File system’ choose NTFS. Keep the default in ‘Allocation unit size’.
- Name your flash drive in the ‘Volume label’ if you want. Don’t forget to click on the ‘Quick Format’ checkbox to fasten up the process. With a quick format, you may recover your data from drive later on.
- Click on ‘Start’ and confirm the formatting process by clicking ‘Yes’. Done!
Format a USB Drive Using Command Prompt
The other way of formatting your USB drive in Windows is using the command prompt, which is fairly simple. Follow the steps below.
- Go to Start
- Type CMD to search command prompt
- From there, select the option ‘Run as administrator’
- When the command prompt opens type:
format VOLUME: /v: DRIVE-LABEL /fs:FILE-SYSTEM /q
In the place of VOLUME, type your drive letter (ex: E), replace DRIVE_LABEL with your drive name (ex:workFlash), and FILE-SYSTEM with NTFS, FAT32, or exFAT. In windows, NTFS is most preferred.
Example: format E: /v:workFlash /fs:NTFS /q
- press Enter twice to confirm the quick format of your USB drive.
- If you want to perform a full format, type:
format VOLUME: /v:FLASHDRIVE-LABEL /fs:FILE-SYSTEM
Example: format E: /v:”workFlash” /fs:NTFS
- Press Enter twice for full format. Done!
Format Large USB Drive to fat32
The FAT32 file format has various advantages. With this, you get more security and it is compatible with most of the devices. However, in regular Windows usage, you will not find any build-in tool to format USB drives larger than 32 GB.
With an external tool, you can format your USB drive up to 4 TB storage. You can also use format command in PowerShell, but it is a lengthy process. Let’s walk you through the process of formatting a USB drive to FAT32 using an external tool.
- Download and run an external app by Ridgecrop Consultants to use the GUI version of the FAT32 file format.
- A pop-up window ‘FAT32 Format’ will open. Select your USB drive from the drop-down menu ‘drive’. Label your USB drive from the option ‘Volume Label’. Check the box ‘Quick format’ to make the whole formatting process faster.
Confirm the formatting process clicking OK.
After a while, your USB drive will be formatted into a FAT32 file format. As simple as that!
How to Format a USB Drive on Mac
Mac computers come with a useful tool called Disk Utility. With the help of it, you can format your USB drive and it is supported by almost all modern Mac OS X.
- Connect the flash drive to your Mac.
- From the ‘Applications’ launch ‘Disk Utility’.
- You will find your USB drive label at the left-hand corner. Click on it.
- From the top bar click on the ‘Erase’ option.
- In the middle section, you will find a drop-down menu called ‘Format’. You can keep the default option or change it to ‘Mac OS Extended (Journaled)’
- Under the ‘Format’ option, label your USB drive to find it easily.
- Now, confirm the formatting process by clicking on ‘Erase’ at the bottom right corner. You are good to go.
How to Format a USB Drive for PS4
One of the major problems a person faces using a PS4 is the stock hard drive can’t handle the heavyweight games. So, having a USB drive storage is quite handy. Relating to a large amount of data, the file format most preferred here is exFAT. Let’s show you how to format your USB drive for PS4 with simple steps.
- Connect your USB drive with PS4 using the USB port.
- Go to: Settings>Devices>USB Storage devices
- Select your USB storage device and click on ‘Format as Extended Storage’
- Click on ‘Next’ and then ‘Format’
- Confirm the formatting process clicking YES and then OK.
Sometimes, due to file format mismatching, you can’t format your USB drive using PS4. In this situation, you have to connect the USB drive to your PC and reset the file format. The process is like formatting in Windows, the only exception is the file format selection. From the drop-down menu select ‘exFAT’ for your PS4 and you are ready to go.
Not every USB drive can be used to store data because of the difference in file format system. In this article, we’ve discussed how to format a USB drive. Formatting in a suitable file format not only provides you fresh storage but also optimizes the performance of your USB drive. Whether you use PS4, Mac, or Windows, formatting with these simple steps will regain your control over USB drives.