How to Format USB Drive or Pen Drive in Windows 11, 10, 8 or 7?

Because of their tiny size, USB thumb drives are trendy among PC users. You can quickly create a bootable USB flash drive or “Windows To Go” drive and carry it in your pocket.

how to make bootable pendrive for w...
how to make bootable pendrive for windows 10

However, if you have purchased a new USB drive, you need to format it first to use it. Without formatting, the device will not allow you to copy any files/folders.

Disk formatting is a built-in feature of every Windows operating system, including Windows 11, 10, 8, and 7. An operating system can only recognize the formatted disk structure. So, if you have purchased a new Pendrive without formatting or creating a new partition, you’ll need to perform the formatting action to use it.

There are several methods available on Windows to format USB drives, and these are the following:-

  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 USB Drive using File Explorer?

To format a USB drive using File Explorer, use the following steps:-

Step 1. Open File Explorer using Windows + E hotkey.

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

Step 3. When you’re done, a Format dialog will appear on your computer. If you need, change the File system, Allocation Unit Size, etc., and then click on the Start button.

Step 4. Click OK.

Once the formatting is completed, you should see a “Format Complete” message.

Click OK to exit.

How to Format a USB Drive with Disk Management Tool?

To format a USB drive with a built-in Disk Management Tool, use these steps:-

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

Step 2. When you’re done, the “Computer Management” window will appear on your computer.

Step 3. Under Storage, select Disk Management option.

Alternatively, you can also open Disk Management by typing diskmgmt.msc in the Run box and click the OK button.

Step 4. Now, perform a right-click on the USB drive and select the Format option.

Step 5. In the pop-up window, if you want, change the Volume label, File system, etc.

Step 6. Then, click OK to format your Pen Drive or USB Thumb Drive.

How to Format USB Disk through Command Prompt?

To format a USB disk through Command Prompt, do the following:-

Step 1. Click on the Windows button at the taskbar and type cmd or command prompt.

Step 2. Then, right-click on Command Prompt app and select Run as administrator option.

When you’re done, Command Prompt opens with administrator privileges.

Step 3. At the prompt, type diskpart and hit Enter key on the keyboard.

Step 4. After that, type list volume and hit Enter on the keyboard.

The above command will list all internal volumes/disk partitions and external drives. For instance, Volume 4 with the drive letter “E” is Pendrive which I want to format.

Step 5. Next, type select volume 4 and hit Enter from the keyboard.

Note: If your USB drive volume number is different, change 4 to that number. Suppose, in your computer, volume 10 is a USB drive; then the command will be select volume 10.

Step 6. Now type the following command and hit Enter key on the keyboard 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, formatting will be started. Depending upon the size and speed of your USB drive, it may take a while. 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.

Using above mentioned method, you can also format an internal drive of your computer.

How to Format a USB Drive using Windows PowerShell?

Windows PowerShell is an advanced command-line tool. One can also format a USB Thumb Drive using it.

To format a USB drive using Windows PowerShell, do the following:-

Step 1. First, launch the PowerShell with administrative privilege.

Step 2. Then, type the following and hit Enter on the keyboard:-


The above command will display 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 and hit Enter on the keyboard:-

Clear-Disk -Number # -RemoveData

Note: In the above command line, replace the # with the number associated with your USB drive that you noted down in step 2. For example, 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 on the keyboard.

Once you complete the above steps, 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 it 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. For that use the following command:-

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

Note: In the above command, replace # 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 the following:-

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

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

When you’re done, a dialog box will appear to format your USB drive. Click the “Format disk” button.

Once the formatting is completed, it will become visible in File Explorer, and you can use it for any purpose.

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 you assigned earlier. 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 program, and in size, it is 557KB. 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.

Features of USB Disk Storage Format Tool

  • Obliterate 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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