How to Format a USB Drive.

What Does Flash Memory Mean?

Flash memory is a non-volatile memory chip used for storage and for transfering data between a personal computer (PC) and digital devices. It has the ability to be electronically reprogrammed and erased. It is often found in USB flash drives, MP3 players, digital cameras and solid-state drives.

Flash memory is a type of electronically erasable programmable read only memory (EEPROM), but may also be a standalone memory storage device such as a USB drive. EEPROM is a type of data memory device using an electronic device to erase or write digital data. Flash memory is a distinct type of EEPROM, which is programmed and erased in large blocks.

Flash memory incorporates the use of floating-gate transistors to store data. Floating-gate transistors, or floating gate MOSFET (FGMOS), is similar to MOSFET, which is a transistor used for amplifying or switching electronic signals. Floating-gate transistors are electrically isolated and use a floating node in direct current (DC). Flash memory is similar to the standard MOFSET, except the transistor has two gates instead of one.

What Is a Flash Drive?

A flash drive is a small, ultra-portable storage device which, unlike an optical drive or a traditional hard drive, has no moving parts.Flash drives connect to computers and other devices via a built-in USB Type-A or USB-C plug, making one a kind of combination USB device and cable.

Flash drives are often referred to as pen drives, thumb drives, or jump drives. The terms USB drive and solid-state drive (SSD) are also sometimes used but most of the time those refer to larger, not-so-mobile USB-based storage devices like external hard drives.

How to Use a Flash Drive.

To use a flash drive, just insert it into a free USB port on the computer.

On most computers, you’ll be alerted that the flash drive was inserted and the contents of the drive will appear on the screen, similar to how other drives on your computer appear when you browse for files.

You can also use a flash drive with an Android phone or connect one to an iPhone or iPad.

Exactly what happens when you use your flash drive depends on your version of Windows or other operating system, and how you have your computer configured.

What Is the Function of a USB Flash Drive?

A USB flash drive (based around Universal Service Bus technology) is a compact, lightweight and micro portable data storage device. The increasing mobility of users such as independent tech consultants, academicians, working professionals and others has led to the increased use and popularity of flash drives. Depending on usage, user characteristics and needs, USB drives can be used for different purposes.

1. Transfer.

A USB flash drive is used to transfer files, documents, photos and more from a desktop to a flash drive and vice-versa.

2. Store Files.

Depending on the usage characteristics of users and storage capacities, USB drives are used to store files. Users can store PDF files, word processing documents, PowerPoint presentations and spreadsheets in 4GB or 8GB flash drives. Media and entertainment professionals can store large-capacity music videos, TV soap episodes, graphics–rich photos and even movies in 32GB USB drives.

3. Transport Data.

A USB drive can be used by working professionals to transport data from place to place. Academicians and others can save their presentations and lectures on USB drives and use them in locations elsewhere.

4. Back-up Files.

The USB drive can be used to save important files, photos, presentations and personal records as a back-up storage device. Password–protection functions available on most brand USB flash drives protect the integrity of important data.

5. Portability.

The USB drive, due to its tiny size, compact specifications and lightweight characteristics, is the ultimate portable device.

How to Format a USB Drive.

How to Format a USB Drive in Windows.

Whether you’re running Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, or Windows 10, the steps are essentially the same.

1. Plug in the USB drive.

2. Open Windows File Explorer and go to This PC (aka Computer or My Computer).

3. Right-click the drive, and select Format…

The formatting options you can customize are File system, Allocation unit size, Volume label, and Format options. You can also Restore device defaults in case your custom settings aren’t working.

To format your drive, you simply make your selection, click Start, followed by OK to confirm that you really want to erase all data and the drive will be formatted.

However, before you proceed with formatting, you will want to understand what each of these options actually means. So let’s go through them one by one.

Which File System to Choose?

In Windows 10, you will see a maximum of four different file systems: NTFS, FAT, FAT32, and exFAT. You will not see FAT and FAT32 if your drive is larger than 32 GB. So what is the difference between those file systems and which one should you choose?

Let’s look at the benefits of each.

▪️ NTFS Compared to FAT & FAT32:

_ read/write files larger than 4 GB and up to maximum partition size.

_ create partitions larger than 32 GB.

_ compress files and save disk space_ better space management = less fragmentation.

_ allows more clusters on larger drives = less wasted space.

_ add user permissions to individual files and folders (Windows Professional).

_ on-the-fly file encryption using EFS (Encrypting File System; Windows Professional).

▪️ FAT & FAT32 Compared to NTFS:

_ compatible with virtually all operating systems.

_ takes up less space on the USB drive.

_ less disk writing operations = faster and less memory usage.

▪️ exFAT Compared to FAT & FAT32:

_ read/write files larger than 4 GB.

_create drive partitions larger than 32 GB.

_ better space management = less fragmentation.

Due to its nature, FAT or better yet FAT32 are suitable for drives smaller than 32 GB and in an environment where you never need to store files larger than 2 or 4 GB, respectively. In other words, any regular sized hard drive (60 GB +) should be formatted with NTFS.

However, due to the way NTFS works it is not recommended for flash drives, even when they are bigger than 32 GB. This is where exFAT comes in. It combines the benefits of FAT (small, fast) and NTFS (large file size supported) in a way that is perfect for flash drives.

Keep in mind though that FAT and FAT32 are the only file systems that are cross-platform compatible. NTFS is supported in Linux, but it requires a hack or third-party application to work on a Mac. exFAT, on the other hand, is supported as of OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), but you need drivers to read it on Linux.

If for compatibility or speed reasons you want to go with FAT or FAT32, always go with FAT32, unless you are dealing with a device of 2 GB or smaller.

Which Allocation Unit Size Works Best?

Hard drives are organized in clusters and the allocation unit size describes the size of a single cluster. The file system records the state of each cluster, i.e. free or occupied. Once a file or a portion of a file is written to a cluster, the cluster is occupied, even if there is space remaining.

Hence, larger clusters can lead to more wasted or slack space. With smaller clusters, however, the drive becomes slower as each file is broken up into smaller pieces, and it takes much longer to draw them all together when the file is accessed.

Hence, the optimal allocation unit size depends on what you want to do with your USB drive. If you want to store large files on that drive, a large cluster size is better as the drive will be faster. If, however, you want to store small files or run programs off your flash drive, a smaller cluster size will help preserve space.

Rule of thumb: large drive and/or large files = large allocation unit size (and vice versa)For a 500 MB USB flash drive, rather select 512 bytes (FAT32) or 32 kilobytes (FAT). On a 1 TB external hard drive select 64 kilobytes (NTFS).

Reference :

“Flash Memory”,,

Pallab Dutta, “What Is the Function of a USB Flash Drive”،

Tim Fisher (10-12-2017), “What is a Flash Drive?”،

Tina Sieber (25-3-2018), “How to Format a USB Drive & Why You Would Need To “،

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