Has the USB stick on which you usually save your work documents started to get mad? Copying files has become slow, and from time to time the data transfer gets interrupted by strange error messages? Unless your USB stick is hardware damaged, you can try to solve all these problems with a nice formatting, a bit like you do with computers. How do you say? You agree with me perfectly but you have no idea how to go about it format a USB stick? Well, you don't have to worry… I can explain everything to you, step by step.
Yes, I know, said that it may seem a complicated thing, almost impossible for those who do not yet chew computer science well. But no! I can assure you that deleting all the contents of a USB stick and formatting it is a real breeze, regardless of whether the operating system installed on your computer is Windows or OS X. In any case, do not worry, I will explain everything to you in detail.
But now, stop the chatter and let's get to work immediately. Come on, take five minutes of free time and find out with me how to format a USB stick. I have no doubt that everything will be for the best and that in case of need you will also be ready and willing to explain to your friends in need of receiving a similar tip how to do it.
Format a USB Stick on Windows PC
If you use a computer equipped with Windows and you are interested in understanding how to proceed to format a USB stick, know that to perform this operation it is not necessary to use special programs, just use the "ad hoc" utility present on all PCs running one of the Microsoft operating systems.
To be able to format a USB key on Windows, the first step you must take is therefore to connect the device to the computer through one of the appropriate ports of the same, after which you must access Windows Explorer o File Explorer (the item changes depending on the version of Windows in use) by clicking on the icon depicting a yellow folder that is located on the taskbar. Then select the item computer o What PC (also in this case the voice changes according to the version of Windows used) from the left sidebar of the window that is shown to you and then locate the icon of the key to format. If you are using a computer with Windows XP installed click on the button Start and then go to Computer resources to locate the icon of the USB key to format.
At this point, right-click on the drive icon to format and select the item Format from the menu that appears. In the window that opens choose between FAT32, exFAT e NTFS the file system with which to format the drive by selecting it from the drop-down menu located under the item File system:.
The file system to choose depends on your needs, or rather on the type of file you intend to store on the key and the devices in which you want to use it: PC, multimedia player, televisions and so on. Below you will find the file systems to choose from for formatting the key and their characteristics.
- FAT32 is the default setting and allows you to create units that are perfectly compatible with all devices. On the other hand, it does not allow the storage of single files whose weight exceeds 4GB.
- NTFS is the Microsoft file system, it allows you to store even files larger than 4GB but is less supported than FAT. On Mac, for example, it is normally only accessible for reading and various multimedia players are unable to read it.
- exFAT it is an evolution of the FAT file system that allows you to store files larger than 4GB and is supported by most devices.
Once you have chosen the file system, type the name to be assigned to the key in the field located under the entry Volume label and then choose whether to perform a quick or complete formatting by keeping or removing the check mark from the box next to the item Quick format.
The difference between quick and full format is that the second also performs an integrity check of the formatted drive (so it takes longer). In case you had to choose the quick format procedure, also keep in mind that the free space on the key will not be reclaimed so as long as the drive is not overwritten with other files it will always and in any case be possible to recover the data deleted from it. .
Once all the settings have been adjusted, press the button starts to start the operation and then wait for the procedure by which to format a key is started and completed.
When formatting is complete, to eject the key from the computer, press the right mouse button again on the device icon in the Windows Explorer o File Explorer and click on the entry Eject annessa to the menu che ti comes mostrato.
If errors appear and you are unable to format your key, check that the device does not have write protection. In this case, try moving the lever on it or try one of the "tricks" shown in my guide on how to format a protected USB stick.
Format a USB Stick on Mac OS X
If, on the other hand, you use a Mac and you are interested in understanding what you need to do to be able to format a USB stick, keep in mind that to succeed "in the enterprise" you just need Disk Utility, the application available “standard” on OS X thanks to which it is possible to easily manage hard disks, pendrive and external supports of various kinds.
The procedure you have to go through is very simple. All you have to do is connect the USB stick to be formatted to the Mac and start Disk Utility by clicking on the item vai attached to the menu bar, then pressing up Utility and double-clicking the application icon. Alternatively, you can access Disk Utility by pressing the magnifying glass located at the top right of the Mac desktop, by typing utility disco in the search bar of Spotlight and double-clicking on the first displayed result, the one indicated as Il migliore.
In the window that opens, select the name of the key from the left sidebar and then click on the button Initialize placed at the top. Then choose the file system you want to use to format the key by selecting it from the drop-down menu Format.
Even on Mac, the file system to choose essentially depends on the type of file you intend to store on the stick and the devices on which you want to use it. You can clear your mind about the choice of file system by taking a look at the following list.
- MS-DOS (FAT) it is a fairly old file system but for this reason it can guarantee a high level of compatibility. The pendrives that are formatted with this file system can be used, both in reading and in writing, on all computers, all major operating systems and also on various other devices including tablets, Smart TVs, decoders and DVD / Blu players. Ray. Advantages aside, this file system brings with it some defects that are far from minor, such as high data fragmentation and the inability to store files larger than 4GB.
- exFAT it is a file system which, as the name suggests, represents an evolution of MS-DOS (FAT) which reduces the level of data fragmentation and eliminates the 4GB weight limit. This file system is not as compatible as the previous one but is still supported without particular problems by all major PC operating systems and by many other devices including Smart TVs, decoders, tablets and living room players.
- Mac OS extended it is a default file system of OS X. It has no particular limitations on file size and does not generate much fragmentation but its degree of compatibility outside the Mac world is very poor.
After choosing the file system, assign any name to the key by typing it in the field Name and leaves the option selected for the item unchanged Scheme. If available the button Security options ..., you can also press on it to indicate the degree of security with which to perform the operation, i.e. the number of times the data on the formatted device is overwritten. To finish, click the button Initialize in order to start the procedure to format the pendrive.
Within a few seconds you will then be shown a blue progress bar located in the center of the window and indicating the degree of completion of the operation. Once you have completed the procedure to format a USB stick, click on the button end.
You can then eject the key from the Mac by right-clicking on the device icon on the desktop and choosing the item Eject "key name" (instead of "Key name" the name of your pendrive is indicated) attached to the on-screen menu. Alternatively, you can eject the key from your Mac by dragging the key icon to the icon of Trash can present sul dock.
As I explained to you how to format a USB key on a PC, Macs support NTFS drives for read only (i.e. they allow you to read the files on the keys formatted with this file system but not to modify them or add new ones). To format a USB stick in NTFS on OS X you need to install third party drivers, you can find all the details in my tutorial on how to format NTFS with Mac.