Learn how to format USB to NTFS in Windows 10 or Windows 11

Most computer users don’t think about formatting a USB flash drive or external hard drive. That’s because most drives are ready formatted and ready for everyday use.

However, there may come a time when you need to completely erase all the data on your USB, or make the drive compatible with a different type of computer than the one it is already formatted for.

Formatting is preparing a storage device, such as a hard drive, external hard drive, SSD, or USB device to store information. It creates a file system that organizes your data and allows you to maximize the space for your files. It is common to format a drive when using a new operating system or when additional space is needed.

You can format a device in different file systems. This article tells you how to format a USB to Windows’s most common NTFS file system. If you also use the USB on a Mac, then the Mac can only read the NTFS file system.

Learn how to format USB to NTFS in Windows 10 or Windows 11

To begin, insert the USB flash drive or external hard drive into the computer’s USB port. Next, make sure the USB is recognized by Windows.

You can check this by opening File Explorer. Then click “This PC” on the left and check whether the USB device is visible and has been assigned a drive letter.

Then right-click on the USB. In the menu, click on “Format”.

format usb drive

Select the file system “NTFS”. The cluster size will be filled in by Windows based on the total capacity of the USB itself. Next, enter a clearly recognizable volume name.

You can choose to perform quick formatting or full formatting. If you want to do a full format then disable quick format.

Quick formatting allows you to overwrite all the files on the USB, but it does not completely erase them; with the right software, the old files can be restored. In Windows, you can quickly format a drive in either the FAT or NTFS file systems.

Click Start to format the USB with the NTFS file system when you are ready.

Format as NTFS

If you format this drive, all data on the drive will be lost. Click OK if you want to format the disk or Cancel if you want to abort the formatting process.

Format usb drive or external drive

The time to format the USB as NTFS depends on the data and total capacity. You will see the “Format complete” message when the formatting is finished. You can now eject the USB and use it again.

Format complete

I hope this has helped. Thanks for reading!

Learn more: how to encrypt data on a USB or external hard drive?

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