How To Format (erase) A USB Flash Drive (SSD, HDD) On Windows Or Mac (macOS)

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Video: How To Format (erase) A USB Flash Drive (SSD, HDD) On Windows Or Mac (macOS)

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How To Format (erase) A USB Flash Drive (SSD, HDD) On Windows Or Mac (macOS)
How To Format (erase) A USB Flash Drive (SSD, HDD) On Windows Or Mac (macOS)
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There is nothing difficult in the process of formatting a flash drive on a Windows or Mac computer, and many users have already performed this operation more than once. However, there are a number of nuances that can create certain difficulties, for example, removing write protection, choosing a file system and cluster size, and data recovery.

How to format (erase) a USB flash drive on Windows or Mac (macOS)
How to format (erase) a USB flash drive on Windows or Mac (macOS)

It should be borne in mind that formatting can not only delete all files, but also debug the device if there are problems in its operation.

You can format a flash drive (USB drive) in Windows as follows:

1. Launch the system formatting tool.

Plug in the USB drive, then go to My Computer. Right-click on the flash drive icon that appears and select "Format".

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

2. Configure the options you want.

When choosing a file system, the user specifies the type of data organization on the drive.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

There are three different options available:

1. FAT32. This type guarantees compatibility with Windows, macOS and most USB-compatible devices, such as game consoles, media players, etc. At the same time, the size of the recorded file should not exceed 4 GB. FAT32 is perhaps the best option for collaboration between Windows and macOS.

2.exFAT. When this option is selected, the flash drive will be compatible with Windows operating systems starting with XP SP2, as well as Mac OS X Snow Leopard and later. This type of file system allows you to write files of any size, however, the flash drive may not work on some devices.

3. NTFS. By choosing this type, the user will receive a fully Windows-compatible USB drive. At the same time, macOS will only be able to view files without the ability to overwrite them. NTFS also allows you to upload files of any size.

Having decided on the type of file system, you must specify the size of the cluster, that is, the distribution units. In this case, the user needs to select the minimum amount of memory allocated by the device for one file.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

If you specify a cluster size of 64 KB, even smaller files will take up at least 64 KB of memory. It makes sense to indicate the cluster size small if it is assumed that many small files will be stored on the flash drive, for example, text documents. This can save free space, but the speed of the USB storage will decrease. If the user intends to store large files on the flash drive, then the value should be specified more. In any case, you can always leave the default value.

In the "Volume label" field you can rename the drive.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

Don't forget to check the "Quick (clear the table of contents)" box. If you select this option, you can save time for cleaning, however, if you uncheck this box, the system will check the drive for errors, which can be useful when debugging, although the process itself will take a little longer.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

When you have finished choosing the options, click "Start" to start the formatting process.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

All the procedures described above can be repeated by reformatting the USB flash drive.

How to format on a secure flash drive

The formatting function may be unavailable due to write protection enabled. It can be disabled using Registry Editor. To do this, follow these steps:

1. Go to the registry editor using the Windows key + R key combination and paste regedit into the line that appears, then press Enter.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

2. Go to the following path in the folder tree: HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE → SYSTEM → CurrentControlSet → Control → StorageDevicePolicies (the last directory may be missing).

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

3. In the StorageDevicePolicies folder, open the WriteProtect parameter and change the value from 1 to 0, then click Save.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

4. Disconnect the USB flash drive and restart your computer.

Some flash drives have physical write protection in the form of a switch. In this case, you just need to move the switch to a different position.

If the StorageDevicePolicies directory does not exist, you must create one. To do this, right-click on the Control directory and select New → Section. Specify StorageDevicePolicies for the name.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

Next, right-click on the StorageDevicePolicies section, and then New → DWORD Parameter or QWORD Parameter.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

Specify WriteProtect for the parameter name and make sure its value is 0.

How to format a USB flash drive on Windows
How to format a USB flash drive on Windows

Then close Registry Editor, unplug your USB flash drive and restart your computer.

What to do if you can't format a USB flash drive

Sometimes Windows may report the impossibility of formatting. The reason for this phenomenon may be a malfunction of both the flash drive itself and the computer.

In such a situation, you can try using special software to restore normal operation. This software is often located on the website of the manufacturer of the flash drive. For example, JetFlash Online Recovery is available for drives manufactured by Transcend, and USB Flash Drive Online Recovery is available for ADATA.

In addition, there are universal programs available on the Internet that are suitable for flash drives from any manufacturer, such as USB Disk Storage Format Tool.

If you have tried all the methods described above, and you still cannot format the drive, it may be faulty and needs to be replaced or repaired.

How to erase and format a USB stick or external drive on Mac?

If you use one or more external drives to store data outside the main Mac drive, you should definitely know how to handle them in the macOS environment. We will tell you later in this article. how to properly erase and format USB flash drives or external drives connected to a computer using the standard macOS toolkit, as well as third-party utilities.

macOS is a self-contained operating system. Apple programmers have implemented advanced utilities for the comfortable operation of the system right out of the box. To solve tasks related to managing internal or external disks, there is a standard application "Disk Utility". With its help, the user can not only erase the disk, but also format it in a format understandable for Windows computers or for using Boot Camp.

1. Open Disk Utility in any way you like (Dock, Launchpad, Finder Explorer (Applications → Utilities), or Spotlight search).

2. In the left side menu, select the external storage device of interest connected to the Mac (it will be displayed in the "External" section).

Note that both drives and partitions are displayed in the left side menu structure. A disc can contain several separate chapters (their titles are displayed slightly to the right of the disc title). By erasing the partition, you will only destroy the files that are stored directly on it. Formatting a disc erases all partitions and all data on the disc. Be careful!

3. Click the Erase button. Specify a name for the partition or disk and select the format of interest:

How to Format SSD to APFS Format on Mac
How to Format SSD to APFS Format on Mac
How to Convert MBR to GUID (GPT) on Mac
How to Convert MBR to GUID (GPT) on Mac
  • APFS is the macOS Standard File System, introduced in 2016, and is used in macOS 10.13 and later.
  • APFS (encrypted) - file system with optional volume encryption;
  • APFS (case sensitive) - the file system defines, for example, folders named "Apple" and "Apple" as two completely different folders;
  • APFS (case sensitive, encrypted) - a combined file system with all the nuances of the formats described above;
  • Mac OS Extended (Journaled) - The standard macOS file system used by macOS 10.12 and earlier.
  • Mac OS Extended (Journaled, Encrypted) - File system with optional volume encryption;
  • Mac OS Extended (case sensitive, journaled) - the file system defines, for example, folders named "Apple" and "Apple" as two completely different folders;
  • Mac OS Extended (case sensitive, journaled, encrypted) - a combined file system with all the nuances of the formats described above;
  • MS-DOS (FAT) - used on Windows PCs with 32 GB or less disks;
  • ExFAT - used on Windows PCs with disks larger than 32 GB. Use this method when formatting to NTFS format.

Typically Mac users format external drives (internal ones even more so) to Mac OS Extended (Journaled) format. Formatting in MS-DOS (FAT) or ExFAT is ideal if you are going to use a USB flash drive or external drive with both macOS and Windows computers.

ATTENTION! After choosing the encryption option, you will need to come up with a password and remember it. If you forget the password, then you will not be able to decrypt the disk in any way and get the data.

4. If you are formatting an entire external disk with several partitions, then in the "Scheme" item, select a layout scheme (in detail):

Disk utility
Disk utility
  • GUID Partition Scheme - select this option to use the disks with Intel-based Mac computers;
  • Master Boot Record (or "fdisk") - use this scheme if you are going to use the disk as a secondary drive with Windows on Mac installed via Boot Camp;
  • Apple Partition Scheme - Compatible with PowerPC-based Macs with macOS 10.4 or earlier.

five. Optionally, you can specify encryption parameters. The simpler the protection, the faster the disk will work, but it will be less protected from third parties.

encryption options when formatting a drive on macOS
encryption options when formatting a drive on macOS

6. Click the "Erase" button and wait for the formatting process to complete. Don't worry when the disk icon disappears from the desktop. After formatting is complete, everything will be displayed again.

7. After the formatting process is complete, click the "Finish" button and exit "Disk Utility".

To eject the disc correctly, in the Finder, move the mouse cursor to the disc name and click on the special icon on the right. On the desktop, right-click on the disk and select "Extract" disk name "from the context menu.

How to write data to NTFS formatted USB stick on Mac

Many users in the process of using Mac computers are faced with a situation where it is impossible to write data to a USB flash drive or external drive (read-only). In this case, you must either use the above instructions and format the disk, for example, in MS-DOS (FAT) or ExFAT format (it will be readable on both Mac and Windows), or install the Paragon NTFS for Mac driver.

See also:

  • How to quickly call the last dialed number from iPhone.
  • The best Mac viewer, or how to view photos on macOS - the best apps.
  • 10 cool iPhone + Mac connectivity options when used together.

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