How To Format A USB Drive Or External Hard Disk?

If you’ve ever found yourself facing the daunting task of formatting a USB drive or external hard disk, fear not! In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of formatting these storage devices. Whether you need to clean up a corrupted drive or simply want to erase all data and start fresh, we’ve got you covered. So grab your device and let’s get started on this journey to formatting success!


Before you begin the formatting process, it’s important to gather all the necessary items. Ensure that you have a USB drive or an external hard disk, as well as a computer with a File Explorer. Additionally, it’s crucial to back up any important data that is currently on the storage device. This will help prevent any loss of data during the formatting process.

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Formatting Process

 Format A USB Drive Or External Hard Disk

Source: TheTechBrain AI

Now that you have everything you need, let’s move on to the formatting process.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to format your USB drive or external hard disk:

  1. Open File Explorer on your computer. This can typically be done by clicking on the folder icon located on your taskbar or by pressing the Windows key + E.
  2. Connect your USB drive or external hard disk to your computer. Make sure it is securely plugged in.
  3. Once connected, you should see the drive appear in File Explorer under the “This PC” or “My Computer” section. Look for the drive corresponding to your USB drive or external hard disk. It is usually label with a letter such as “E:” or “F:”.
  4. Select the drive by clicking on it. This will highlight the drive and allow you to perform actions on it.
  5. With the drive selected, go to the “Manage” tab at the top of the File Explorer window. From there, click on the “Format” option. This will open the Format dialog box.
  6. In the Format dialog box, you can choose the file system for your USB drive or external hard disk. The file system determines how the data is organize and access on the storage device. The most commonly used file systems for Windows are NTFS and FAT32. Choose the file system that best suits your needs.
  7. If desired, you can also select the allocation unit size. This determines the cluster size of the file system and can affect the efficiency of storing and accessing files. The default allocation unit size is usually recommended, but you can choose a different size if you have specific requirements.
  8. You may also enter a volume label for your USB drive or external hard disk. This label will be displayed as the drive’s name in File Explorer. While entering a volume label is optional, it can help you easily identify your storage device.
  9. Once you have selected the file system, allocation unit size, and entered a volume label, you can choose between performing a quick format or a full format. A quick format is faster and erases the file system metadata, but it does not completely erase the existing data on the drive. A full format, on the other hand, takes longer but ensures that all data is completely erase from the drive.
  10. Finally, before proceeding with the format, double-check all your settings and make sure they are correct. Once you are satisfy, click on the “Start” button to confirm and initiate the formatting process.
  11. Depending on the size of your USB drive or external hard disk and the type of format you have chosen, the formatting process may take some time. Be patient and avoid disconnecting the storage device during the format.
  12. Once the format is complete, you will see a confirmation message. Congratulations, you have successfully formatted your USB drive or external hard disk!
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Can I format a USB drive or external hard disk on a Mac?

Yes, you can format a USB drive or external hard disk on a Mac. The process is slightly different compare to a Windows computer but still achievable. To format a storage device on a Mac, open the Disk Utility application, which can be find in the Utilities folder within the Applications folder. From there, select the drive you want to format and choose the desired file system. Follow the prompts to complete the format.

Can I format a USB drive or external hard disk without losing data?

Formatting a USB drive or external hard disk will erase all the data on it. Therefore, it is important to back up any important data before proceeding with the format. However, if you have accidentally formatted your storage device and need to retrieve the lost data, you can use data recovery software to attempt recovery. Keep in mind that the success of data recovery after formatting depends on various factors, so it is always recommend to regularly back up your important files to prevent data loss.

How long does it take to format a USB drive or external hard disk?

The time it takes to format a USB drive or external hard disk depends on several factors, including the size of the storage device and the type of format chosen (quick format or full format). In general, quick formats are faster and usually take only a few seconds to minutes, while full formats can take significantly longer, potentially several hours, especially for larger capacity drives.

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