How do I reformat a USB?

The issue of formatting a USB often does not come to the fore as USB drives come in a ready-to-use format. Reformatting USB comes into the picture when the drive has to be compatible with another operating system than the one you are using now. It also helps to format a USB drive if you wish to delete all the stored data. 

What is formatting?

Preparing your storage device like a hard drive, USB drive, and solid-state drive to store additional data can be called formatting. This process builds a filing system to enable the availability of more storage space and to organize your data better than before. Two types of formatting are:

  • Quick format: This process erases the root folder and the file system table to make space for storing more data.
  • Full format: Full format will scan for bad sectors and permanently erase all the data by writing zeroes in all sectors.
format a USB

Reformatting USB in Windows

Follow the below steps to reformat your USB drive in Windows operating system.

  1. Connect the USB device to the computer
  2. Depending on which OS you have, open This PC window or the Computer.
  3. If you have Windows Vista or 7, click Start and then Computer.
  4. If you have Windows 8 or 8.1, in the Start screen, type Computer in the Search area. Next, click Computer.
  5. If you have Windows 10 or 11, in the Start screen, type This PC in the Search area and then click This PC.
  6. In this PC window or Computer, right-click on the drive where the USB appears.
  7. From the menu that appears, tap Format.
  8. In the Format device name window, look for the File system. Tap on the drop-down arrow to select FAT32.
  9. You will get a warning message where you have to click OK.
  10. Click OK at the Format complete message.
  11. Click Close at the Format device name window.
  12. Close the This PC window or the Computer
  13. Press Eject the device and then remove the USB drive from the computer.

Reformatting USB in MAC

Follow the below steps to reformat your USB drive in MAC operating system.

  • Connect the USB device to the computer
  • Open Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility
  • Select the USB device in the left panel by clicking on its name
  • Click to go to the Erase tab
  • Click MS-DOS FAT in the Volume Format: selection box
  • Press Erase 
  • When asked again, press Erase
  • Close the Disk Utility window
  • Eject the USB drive

As discussed above, formatting a USB drive is as simple as a few steps. Formatting is the best option if you want to use the device on another operating system or want to erase all the files currently on the device. Formatting is recommended if you look forward to improving the performance of the USB device. 

How do I clear a USB stick on a Mac?

Here’s what: Go to Finder > Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility while the stick is still plugged in. From there, your memory stick should show up in a left-hand sidebar. Click it, then click the “erase” tab and do what it says.

How do I format an unreadable USB?

You can read this post for more info or watch video below:

How do I fix a corrupted flash drive?

Find out some info for this problem here.

Andy Avery

I really enjoy helping people with their tech problems to make life easier, ​and that’s what I’ve been doing professionally for the past decade.

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