How to format USB Drive or Pen Drive in Windows 10 / 8 / 7?

Pendrives or USB thumb drives are very popular in our life due to their portability and tiny size. It is beneficial to create a bootable USB flash drive and even a Windows To Go drive for faster Windows installation. If you purchased a new pen drive without formatting, to use it, you have to format it. Without formatting, you can’t copy any files/folders in your Pendrive. Disk formatting is a built-in feature of every operating system. You may use Windows 10 / 8 / 7. You can manage the disk in every operating system regardless of the OS version. The operating system can recognize only the formatted disk structure. So, if you have purchased a new Pendrive without formatting or creating a new partition, you need to perform the formatting action to use it normally.

One can perform the pen drive or USB drive formatting using the following methods:-

  1. File Explorer
  2. Disk Management Tool
  3. Command Prompt
  4. Windows PowerShell
  5. USB Disk Storage Format Tool

Note: If your Pen Drive or USB flash drive is write-protected or read-only, you will not be able to format it using these methods. First, you need to remove write-protection or read-only, then you can proceed with further steps.

How to Format a Pen Drive or USB Drive with File Explorer?

Formatting a Pen Drive or USB flash drive using File Explorer is quite fast, do the following:-

Step 1. Open File Explorer or Windows Explorer by pressing Windows logo + E keys simultaneously.

Step 2. On the File Explorer, right-click on the USB Drive or Pen Drive and select the Format option.

Step 3. A Format dialog box opens. If you want, change the File system, Allocation Unit Size, etc., and then click on the Start button.

Step 4. A dialog box opens. Click OK.

Step 5. You should see a “Format Complete” message.

Step 6. Click OK.

That’s all!!! Formatting is completed now.

How to Format a Pen Drive or USB Drive with Disk Management Tool?

Step 1. Right-click on “Computer” or “This PC” and select Manage > Disk Management.

Step 2. It will open the “Computer Management” window.

Step 3. Under Storage, click Disk Management.

Note: You can also access “Disk Management” by typing “diskmgmt.msc” in the Run box.

Step 4. Right-click the Pendrive and select “Format.”

Step 5. It will launch a new window with formatting options. Here, you can change the Volume label, File system, etc.

Step 6. Once you are ready with the above options, click OK to format your Pen Drive or USB Thumb Drive.

How to Format Pen Drive or USB Disk with Command Prompt?

Step 1. To format your Pendrive with a command prompt, open the command prompt by typing cmd or command prompt at the search box.

Step 2. Right-click on Command Prompt app and select Run as Administrator, or from the available options on the right side, click Run as Administrator.

Now, Command Prompt opens with administrator privileges.

Step 3. At the command prompt window, type diskpart and hit Enter from the keyboard.

Step 4. Now type list volume and hit Enter from the keyboard.

This command will list all internal volumes/disk partitions as well as external drives too. In my example, Volume 4 with drive letter E is Pendrive which I want to format.

Step 5. Type select volume 4 and hit Enter from the keyboard.

Note: If your PC Pendrive volume number is different, change 4 to that No. Suppose, in your computer, volume 10 is a USB drive, then the command will be select volume 10.

Step 6. Now issue the following command to format your Pendrive:-

format fs=ntfs quick

Note: If you want to format your pen drive to other file systems like exFAT, replace the command with format fs=exfat quick. If you want to format your Pendrive to other file systems like exFAT, replace the command with format fs=fat32 quick.

Now, Pendrive formatting is started. Depends upon the size and speed of Pendrive, it may take a few minutes. Finally, you should get a message “DiskPart successfully formatted the volume.”

Quick Tips:- If you don’t want to type the command, copy the command using Ctrl+C from the keyboard, and right-click from the mouse on the command prompt screen to paste the copied command.

By a similar method, you can format any internal drive of your computer.

How to Format a Pen Drive or USB Drive using Windows PowerShell?

Windows PowerShell is an advanced command-line tool. One can also format a Pen Drive or USB Thumb Drive using it. Perform the following recommended steps to format a disk:-

Step 1. Open the PowerShell with administrative privilege.

Step 2. In the elevated Windows PowerShell, type the following and hit Enter from the keyboard:-

Get-Disk

The above command will show the disk information. Please note down the number associated with your USB flash drive. For example, number 1 is my USB flash drive.

Step 3. Now, type the following line and press Enter from the keyboard:-

Clear-Disk -Number # -RemoveData

Note: In the above command line, replace the Hash (#) with the number associated with the USB drive, and noted in step 2. For instance, my USB drive is on number 1, and my command will be the following:-

Clear-Disk -Number 1 -RemoveData

When prompted, type A and again press Enter from the keyboard.

Once you complete the above command, the USB drive will be formatted, and also drive letter will be removed. That means data is erased from USB Drive or Pen Drive and will not be visible in File Explorer.

Step 4. To make it visible in File Explorer, you need to create a partition and assign a Drive Letter. Issue the following command now:-

New-Partition -DiskNumber # -UseMaximumSize -IsActive -DriveLetter NewDriveLetter

Note: In the above command, replace Hash (#) with the number associated with the USB drive you noted earlier and NewDriveLetter with a new drive letter for the USB drive. Ensure that the drive letter is not in use by any other partition on your PC.

For my case, the command will be following:-

New-Partition -DiskNumber 1 -UseMaximumSize -IsActive -DriveLetter D

Once you execute the above command, the partition is created and a drive letter assigned to your USB drive.

A dialog box will open to format your USB drive. Click on the “Format disk” button.

Once the formatting is completed, it will become visible, and File Explorer and will become usable. You can put data on your USB flash drive.

If you are not being prompted to format the disk, you can issue the following command on PowerShell to format it:-

Format-Volume -DriveLetter NewDriveLetter -FileSystem NewFileSystem -NewFileSystemLabel VolumeLabel

Note: Replace NewDriveLetter with the drive letter which you earlier assigned. Change NewFileSystem with the file system format (NTFS, exFAT, or FAT32) you want to format the USB drive. Finally, replace VolumeLabel with the new volume label (name of the USB drive will be visible on File Explorer) for the USB drive.

For instance, we have used the following command:-

Format-Volume -DriveLetter D -FileSystem NTFS -NewFileSystemLabel gearupwindows

How to Format a Pen Drive or USB Drive using USB Disk Storage Format Tool?

USB Disk Storage Format Tool is a freeware application and only 557KB in size. To format a USB flash drive or Pen Drive, download the latest version of the USB Disk Storage Format Tool from here. Install it on your computer and then launch it. Select the USB drive and click on the “Format Disk” button.

Apart from the cleaning, it features the following:-

  • Erase all data and delete space on flash drives that are not possible using built-in Windows formatting.
  • Remove any tracks of malicious software that may have infected your USB flash drive.
  • Check and correct partition errors, if any.
  • Create a volume label for USB disk drives.
  • Scan drives for errors before formatting.
  • Create a FAT32 volume larger than 32 GB.

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