Formating USB Drives

Formatting USB Drives – Most computer users don’t think about formatting their USB flash drives, as most drives are pre-formatted and ready to go. However, sometimes you need to erase all the data on your drive or make the drive compatible with the operating systems that you need to work on. If you’ve ever come across a flash drive that works on a PC but doesn’t work on a Mac or vice versa, it’s usually because of the drive format. This article explains how to format your drive on Windows and Mac OS 10+.

What does Formatting mean?

Formatting is the process of preparing storage devices such as hard drives, solid-state drives, flash drives, and others to store information. This process creates a filing system that manages data and allows you to maximize storage space for your files. Formatting the drive is usually done when you are going to use it on a new operating system or need free space.

Formatting USB Drives divides into 2:

Quick format: Deletes file system tables and root folders. This option is often used so that the USB flash drive can clear available space for moving or storing other files efficiently. This is not the safest way to delete your files as the data may still be recoverable with a data recovery tool.

Full format: Bad sectors will be scanned and write zeros in all sectors, which means it will delete all data permanently. This action may take some time depending on the capacity of the drive.

File System Options

When formatting your drive, it is important to understand the different formatting options available for the appropriate use. The most common File systems for USB flash drives are:

  • FAT32 is the one that you might be familiar with as it is compatible with Mac and Windows operating systems. Has a maximum file size capacity of 4 GB, but lacks security. Most USB flash drives have a built-in FAT32 file system. FAT32 is the most compatible file system for older/modern computers (PC and Mac), game consoles, and devices with USB ports.
  • The ideal file system for USB flash drives is exFAT. This system does not have a file size limit of 4GB and is compatible with most Windows and Mac operating systems. Older operating systems may require updating in order to read and write correctly on USB drives with the exFAT file system.
  • The NTFS format is Windows’ favorite file system used by default for internal drive system operation or in secondary storage drives. This system has a larger max file size but is read-only on Mac OS X (unless you install a third-party NTFS read/write utility).
  • Mac OS Extended is a native solution for Mac users and has the highest maximum file size of any other file systems above. Select this option only if you use your drive on Mac OS. Windows cannot detect this file system without a third-party utility.
See also  4 Easy Ways to See Wifi Passwords on Android

To use NTFS on Mac (Fuse) or HFS on PC (HFSExplorer) there are several tools available. For everyday Windows and Mac OS users, there is another option. That is by creating a partition on the hard drive and dividing the formatted drive for each OS.


  1. Insert the USB drive into the USB port.
  2. Open File Explorer.
  3. Click This PC on the left pane.
  4. Under the “Devices and drives” section, right-click on the flash drive and select the Format option.
  5. Select the desired option using the “File System” drop-down menu
  6. Use the default selection in the “Allocation unit size” drop-down menu
  7. In the “Volume label” field, confirm the drive name that will appear in File Explorer.
  8. For example, KingstonUSB.
  9. Under the “Format options” section, select the Quick format option or not depending on usage.
  10. Click the Start button.
  11. Click Yes button.
  12. Once the format is complete, the USB flash drive is ready to use for storing documents, pictures, videos and other files on the removable drive.

Mac OS 10+

  • Insert the USB drive into your USB port.
  • Launch “Disk Utility” (from Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility).
  • Select the USB drive from the list on the left.
  • Select “Erase” at the top.
  • Type in “Name” for the drive, then select “Format” (file system).
  • Select “Erase”.
  • When finished, select “Done”.
  • Once the format is complete, the USB flash drive is ready to use for storing documents, pictures, videos, and other files on the removable drive.


Formatting USB Drives. How-tos!
Tagged on:     

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *