Formatting a USB Flash Drive Using FAT/FAT32/NTFS/exFAT

Updated on June 22, 2015
Source

A USB flash drive or memory stick is an external data storage device which is used to store or back-up data from your computer or transfer files from one gadget to another.

Like any drive in a computer or laptop, sometimes USB flash drives need to be cleaned or reformatted to either get rid of a virus or change its formatting system.

Formatting a Flash Drive to FAT or FAT32

If you have ever tried to format your USB drive, especially in Windows XP, you'll mostly find the option for FAT and FAT32 file systems, which is the default behaviour.

Here is the step-by-step on how to do this formatting.

Insert your pen drive
Insert your pen drive

Step One: Plug in Your Device

Plug in your USB flash drive into a USB slot on your gadget and wait for a moment until the computer detects your device.

Detecting your memory stick
Detecting your memory stick

Step Two: Open "My Computer"

Open "My Computer" and right click on your USB drive and select the "Format" option. A dialog box will open in which all available formatting options can be seen.

Right click on drive
Right click on drive
Select format option
Select format option

Step Three: Select Your Format

You should have four different options:

  • File system
  • Allocation unit size
  • Volume label
  • Format options

Make sure that the drive selected is correct and the file system is set to what you desire. Simply make your selection and click "Start" > "OK" to confirm that you want to erase the data inside your USB flash drive completely and get the drive formatted.

Formatting a USB Flash Drive to FAT/FAT32/NTFS/exFAT Using Command Prompt

Step One

  • Plug in your USB flash drive

Step Two

  • Go to "start" > "all accessories" > "command prompt"

OR

  • Go to "start" > "Run" > [Type "cmd" and press enter]. You'll find the command prompt window.

Step Three

  • Type "format Z: /fs:FAT" for formatting to FAT*

OR

  • Type "format Z: /fs:FAT32" for formatting to FAT32

OR

  • Type "format Z: /fs:NTFS" for formatting to NTFS

OR

  • Type "format Z: /fs:EXFAT" for formatting to EXFAT

*Z is the letter of your memory stick.

Step Four

  • Press Y=Yes or N=No to proceed with or stop the formatting

Important Note for Formatting to NTFS

If you are formatting to the NTFS file system, then you'll need to enable the "removal policy" of the USB flash drive to the "better performance" option. This can be done easily using the following steps:

  1. Right click on the pen drive and choose "properties."
  2. Select the "hardware" tab and choose the USB flash drive/pen drive from the listed disks.
  3. Click on "properties."
  4. Select the "policies" tab and enable the "better performance" option.
  5. Click "OK."

Now you'll be able to format the pen drive to NTFS directly or by using command prompt.

Formatting using command prompt
Formatting using command prompt

Which File System Should You Choose for Formatting?

In Windows 7, you'll find four different file systems: FAT, FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT. If the data storage capacity of your USB flash drive is larger than 32GB, then you won't see FAT or FAT32 in the formatting options.

FAT & FAT32 Benefits

  • Takes up less space on the USB flash drive
  • Compatible with virtually all operating systems
  • Scan-disk is very quick
  • Less disk writing operations which makes the USB drive faster and uses less memory

NTFS Benefits

  • Provides increased security and reliability with file encryption
  • Can create partitions greater than 32GB
  • Can read as well as write files bigger than 32GB and up to maximal partition size
  • Less space is wasted
  • Compresses files to save disk space
  • Can create permissions for individual files and folders
  • Small file clusters
  • Management of disk space is better

exFAT Benefits

  • Better disk space management
  • Can read as well as write files bigger than 4GB
  • Can create partitions greater than 32GB

What to Choose?

During a normal format process, the data in a memory stick is removed and a scan is performed for bad sectors. During the "Quick Format" process, no scan is carried out, and only data is removed. You should choose according to your needs. NTFS is more flexible but it can get more complicated depending on your situation and work habits.

My recommendations:

  • For USB's between 0 - 512MB: Go for FAT
  • For USB's between 512 and 8192MB: Go for FAT32
  • For USB's 8192 and above: Go for NTFS

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      aryan 2 months ago

      what if the usb is write protected?

      i'm done using regedit and cmd (not working)

    • profile image

      Dilan 8 months ago

      the disk is write protected

    • profile image

      Bedason Mombe 13 months ago

      Working Nice ,

      thanks very Much

    • profile image

      sekhar 17 months ago

      what to do when it show

      verifying 15189M

      0 percent completed.

    • profile image

      Johng521 3 years ago

      You have brought up a very excellent details , regards for the post. fceddedafcec

    • profile image

      Rob 4 years ago

      I have a 64GB drive that the system things is 200MB. I formated the drive to NTFS but no luck regaining lost memory space. Any sugestions?

    • profile image

      Nekel 5 years ago

      Nice one

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: "https://turbofuture.com/privacy-policy#gdpr"

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is used to quickly and efficiently deliver files such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisements has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)