Format a USB stick or external hard drive (beginner)

This method explains how erase the contents of a USB stick or external hard drive from a Windows computer. All versions of Windows have this basic function to format a USB disk. Fixed or portable, the procedure is the same. All you need is a Windows PC, a free USB port and of course a USB device to erase.

Obviously, it is advisable to back up the contents of the key or the hard disk before erasing everything, if these files are important and they do not exist elsewhere.

This tutorial to format a USB drive is the simplest version for this operation. If that doesn’t work, for various reasons, another guide will detail the advanced methods to erase the contents of a USB drive.

Format a USB drive or disk in Windows

1. Connect the USB key or external hard drive on a computer USB port.

2. Open theWindows File Explorer :

  • Computer / This PC icon on the desktop
  • use the key combination Windows + E
  • yellow icon at the bottom left near the start menu

windows 10 explorer

3. Make a right click on the USB device and choose Format.

tutorial format usb key external hard drive

4. Explanation of ditutorial format usb key external hard drivevarious options:

  • Capacity: indicates the size of the USB key or disk
  • File system: NTFS recommended
  • Allocation Unit Size: Leave As Shown
  • Volume name: the new name you want to give to the disk or to the key
  • Check “Quick format

5. Start formatting by clicking on ” To start up

6. A message will ask for confirmation before completely erasing the USB medium.

tutorial format usb key external hard drive

7. A few moments later, the operation is complete.

tutorial format usb key external hard drive

8. The USB stick or external drive is now completely blank, all content has been erased. The new name makes it easier to identify the USB device, for example if you lend a key, if you have the same model several times, etc.

tutorial format usb key external hard drive