Formatting is something that most flash drive users don’t even think about. Their use only entails plugging it into a port and transferring files for storage. However, it can be beneficial to you to format your drive.
Why Format a Flash Drive?
Formatting a flash drive is the best way to prepare the USB drive for use by a computer. It creates a filing system that organizes your data while freeing more space to allow for additional storage. This ultimately optimizes the performance of your flash drive. Formatting also helps erase all data previously stored on the flash drive, and may be used as a last ditch effort for troubleshooting when other methods fail.
Flash drive formatting has numerous benefits. First, it’s the most effective way to wipe data from the flash drive with speed and efficiency. Another benefit is that you can customize security settings such as user permission on certain files. You can compress files so more space is usable on the custom flash drive. You may also need to format a flash drive to update or add new software.
When formatting, it’s necessary to understand file allocation. Methods of file allocation will determine how and where all files are stored on the flash drive. The most common file systems include NTFS, FAT, FAT32, and exFAT.
NTFS uses less fragmentation, which means that it manages space more effectively than other allocations. It’s also ideal for transferring files larger than 4GB because of its ability to create large partitions. However, you should keep in mind this file format isn’t always great for flash drives, and is normally reserved for hard drives.
FAT and FAT32 are used for almost every operating system, and they’re faster and don’t use as much memory. exFat combines elements of both FAT and NTFS by writing and reading larger files at faster speeds.
Formatting is a relatively easy process in most cases. All you need is your flash drive and a computer. Simply right-click on the flash drive under My Computer on Windows or under Devices in the Finder on Mac, and choose “Format,” which should allow you to change the file format to the one you want. The default will normally be FAT32. You may need to uncheck Quick Format in some cases. Then click Start and OK to get around the deletion warning. Understand that you will lose all currently stored files upon reformatting.
By reformatting your flash drives, you’ll be able to keep your flash drives performing their best while making sure you have plenty of space and efficiency when using them. While you may not need to format your hard drives often, and may be satisfied with FAT32 or FAT, it helps to keep in mind that this option is always available if you need to reformat for any reason.