Aug 222013

Have you ever encounter a situation where you need to format your USB drive? Ever confused about what on earth does “format” means? And what are the differences between different file systems? If you indeed have these questions on your mind, then read this post, maybe you will find out the answers to them.


What is Formatting?

Well, first of all, let’s make out what this “format” thing is. Well, to format a drive, no matter it is hard disk, floppy disk, flash drive, means to prepare it for initial use by deleting all of the files, and data on the drive and setting up a file system.

The most popular file system is to support Windows is NTFS, but FAT32 is also often used. The differences between them will in included in later part.


You Might Need Format Your USB Drive If:

1. Your USB has been virus attacked and you need to clear the viruses and regain access to the drive.

2. You have upgraded to storage device with bigger capacity and faster I/O speed, the drive will be passed on to family members and you don’t want them to see what was in it.

3. The write operation was interrupted before completion, and the next time you plug the drive, it says it need to be formatted before use.

4. You have a new PC or something that needs to format the USB drive to recognize it.


What are the Differences between NTFS and FAT32?

NTFS is the current file system used by Windows. Compared to FAT32, it has the following advantages:

1. It could read/write files larger than 4 GB and up to maximum partition size.

2. It could create partition larger than 32 GB.

3. Being able to compress files and save disk space, also, less fragmentation.

4. It allows more clusters on larger drives, which means less wasted space.

5. It offers permission that allows us to determine which user can access to your files and folders.

Well, even though NTFS has so many advantages over FAT32, there is something that the latter one is good at:

1. FAT32 is compatible with virtually all operating system.

2. It takes up less space on USB drive.

3. It has faster writing speed and less memory usage.

That’s about it, choose the file system you like when formatting your USB drive.


How to Format USB Drive:

If you really need to format your USB drive, please note that all of your files and data on the drive will be deleted. You can get them back by using Card Data Recovery, and also, this guide is for Windows users, Mac users can go to Format USB drive on Mac.

1. Connect the drive to PC, and go to Computer or My Computer, right click the drive and select Format from the menu.


2. Then a window will pop up, there you can select the formatting options like File System, Allocation unit size, Volume label and Format options. You can choose whatever suits you, then click Start and confirm by clicking OK. (Leave everything by default is actually a good choice, unless you fully understand which option means what.)

usb drive format

3. There you go, the drive is formatted.

If you have stored some sensitive data on the USB drive, and now you want to sell it to total strangers, it is suggested that you erase the drive with data erasing tool like Roadkil Disk Wipe. But if you want to recover the files you formatted, please go to Card Data Recovery.

Nov 032012

Most USB flash drives are formatted for use with Windows. Before you can install OS X on a USB flash drive, you will need to change the drive’s formatting to the standard used by OS X (Mac OS X Extended Journaled).

Format Your USB Flash Drive

  1. Insert the USB drive and select the “Finder” menu.
  2. Select “Applications” from the right side of the menu. This will show the contents of the Applications folder. Select the “Utilities” folder, which is nested in the Applications folder, to show the folder’s contents. Double-click “Disk Utility.”
  3. Select the drive that you wish to manage in “Disk Utility.” The available drives will be listed in the left column. Click on the drive labeled “USB Flash.”
  4. Click on the “Erase” tab at the top of the utility to show the formatting and naming options for your drive. Give your USB drive a name by typing it into the field provided. Select “Mac X Extended (Journaled)” or “MS-DOS (FAT)” as the volume format. MS-DOS (FAT) is a format that can be read on both Macs and PCs. Mac X Extended (Journaled) was created to increase transfer rates.
  5. Click the “Erase” button on the lower-right side of the screen to begin the formatting process.

Enable Ownership of Your USB Flash Drive

In order for a drive to be bootable it must support ownership, which is the ability of files and folders to have specific ownership and permissions.

  1. Locate the USB flash drive on your Mac desktop, right-click its icon, and select ‘Get Info’ from the pop-up menu.
  2. In the Info window that opens, expand the ‘Sharing & Permissions’ section, if it’s not already expanded.
  3. Click the lock icon in the bottom right corner.
  4. Enter your administrator password when asked.
  5. Remove the check mark from ‘Ignore ownership on this volume.’
  6. Close the Info panel.

If you want to format USB flash drive on Windows, try Partition Manager.