How to reformat a usb drive

Last Updated: Mar 2, 2024 by

USB drives are a convenient and portable way to store and transfer data. However, over time, these drives can become cluttered with old files and may need to be reformatted. Reformatting a USB drive can also be useful if you want to switch the file system or erase all the data on the drive. In this article, we will discuss how to reformat a USB drive and answer the question, “does formatting a USB drive wipe it?”

Understanding Formatting

Before we dive into the steps of reformatting a USB drive, it’s important to understand what formatting actually means. Formatting a USB drive is essentially preparing the drive to store data by creating a file system. This file system organizes the data on the drive and allows the computer to read and write to it. When you format a USB drive, you are essentially erasing all the data on the drive and setting it up to be used again.

Does Formatting a USB Drive Wipe It?

The short answer is yes, formatting a USB drive will wipe all the data on it. This is because formatting creates a new file system, erasing all the previous data. However, it’s important to note that formatting does not completely erase the data from the drive. It simply marks the space as available for new data to be written over it. This means that the data can still be recovered using specialized software. If you want to completely wipe the data from a USB drive, you will need to use a data erasure tool.

Steps to Reformat a USB Drive

Now that we understand the basics of formatting and its effects on data, let’s go through the steps to reformat a USB drive.

Step 1: Connect the USB Drive

The first step is to connect the USB drive to your computer. Make sure it is properly inserted and recognized by your computer.

Step 2: Open Disk Management

On a Windows computer, you can open Disk Management by right-clicking on the Start button and selecting “Disk Management” from the menu. On a Mac, you can open Disk Utility by going to Applications > Utilities > Disk Utility.

Step 3: Select the USB Drive

In Disk Management or Disk Utility, you will see a list of all the drives connected to your computer. Select the USB drive you want to reformat.

Step 4: Format the Drive

Right-click on the USB drive and select “Format” (Windows) or click on the “Erase” tab (Mac). Choose the file system you want to use and give the drive a name. Click “Format” or “Erase” to begin the process.

Step 5: Confirm the Format

A warning message will appear, informing you that all data on the drive will be erased. Click “OK” to confirm and proceed with the formatting.


Reformatting a USB drive is a simple process that can be done in a few easy steps. Just remember that formatting will erase all the data on the drive, so make sure to back up any important files before proceeding. Now that you know how to reformat a USB drive, you can keep your drives organized and ready for use.

Gulrukh Ch

About the Author: Gulrukh Ch

Gulrukh Chaudhary, an accomplished digital marketer and technology writer with a passion for exploring the frontiers of innovation. Armed with a Master's degree in Information Technology, Gulrukh seamlessly blends her technical prowess with her creative flair, resulting in captivating insights into the world of emerging technologies. Discover more about her on her LinkedIn profile.