How to format a hard drive or USB pendrive in Windows 10

If you have a hard drive, a pendrive or even an external partition that you want to format and leave as new without any files, you don't have to install anything extra in Windows 10 to do it.

As long as you use any of the Windows compatible file systems (FAT32, NTFS or exFAT), you can do it quickly from Explorer and in a couple of clicks. We are going to explain the steps and the difference between each type of format.

How to format a disk in Windows 10

Format Windows 10

  • Connect your disk or pendrive through a USB port.

  • Open Windows Explorer and navigate to This team to view connected devices and drives.

  • Right click on the device you want to use and select Format... in the drop-down menu options.

The first thing you have to choose is the File System for your device. If it is a USB stick or hard disk, we recommend that you use exFAT. This is the most modern file system and is optimized for external drives such as SD cards and pen drives.

Quick Format

If you use the exFAT format your drive will be compatible with most modern versions of Windows, Linux and macOS. If you use FAT32 you will have better compatibility with older versions of Windows, but you will not be able to save files larger than 4GB.

Just use the NTFS file system preferably if it is a hard disk where you will install Windows, or if it is a disk that you will only use with Windows or that you want to encrypt. NTFS is a proprietary Microsoft file system and is not compatible with Mac or Linux installations.

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The next thing you need to decide is a label for the volume, you can type a name or you can let Windows do it. And finally, you can choose between a Quick Format or a Full Format. By default the quick format box is checked and you just have to click on "Start" to format your drive.

The Quick Format creates the file system structure on the disk without verifying the integrity of each sector. It is the recommended method for any disk that you know does not have bad sectors or have had file corruption issues that may be related to bad sectors.

The full format identifies and tracks bad sectors so they are not used to store data. It is the most recommended method if you are going to, for example, reinstall an operating system, especially if it is different from the one you already had installed.

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