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Method #1: Wipe USB Flash Drive by Using In-built Format Option. All Windows and Mac computers comes with an in-built format disk option to erase everything from a USB flash drive. We will show you how to use this feature as your advantage to make sure everything is deleted permanently. And when you look at volume size limits, FAT32 still lets you format volumes up to 8 TB, which is more than enough for a USB drive. Other files systems allow volume sizes all the way up into the exobyte and zetabyte range.
Nowadays, when you buy a USB drive, you can use it right out of the box with your Mac. However, unless it’s been designed for use with a Mac, it won’t be formatted using macOS’ preferred file system (either Mac OS Extended or APFS, depending on which version of macOS you’re running).
That’s because most of the computers in the world run Windows, and Windows uses a different file system, usually one known as Fat32. Drives formatted as Fat32 can be read from and written to by macOS, but it’s not optimal and you’re more likely to run into problems than if you use macOS’ native format. So, if you’ve bought a USB drive that’s formatted as Fat32, or any other format other than Mac OS Extended (also known as HFS+) or APFS, here’s how to format a USB drive on Mac. It’s exactly the same procedure if you need to reformat a flash drive on a Mac.
How to format a USB drive on a Mac
1. Plug the drive into a USB socket (if you have a recent MacBook or MacBook Pro that only has USB-C connectors, you’ll need a USB-C to USB-A adaptor).
2. Open a new Finder window and click on the drive. Make sure it has no files on it that you need. The process of reformatting it will wipe all the data from it.
3. Once you’ve copied any files you need from the USB drive to your Mac, go to Applications>Utilities and double-click on Disk Utility.
4. Click on the USB drive in the sidebar and then choose Erase from the toolbar at the top of the window.
5. In the window that drops down type a name for the formatted drive in the box next to Name.
6. Choose a format from the dropdown menu.
7. If you have previously stored sensitive data on the drive, click the Security tab.
8. Choose a security level using the slider. The further to the right you move the slider, the more ‘passes’ the erase tool will make and the more securely files will be deleted. However, it also increases the time it takes to format the drive quite considerably.
9. Click Ok then click Erase.
Tip: You don’t need to erase a whole drive to delete files securely. If you have confidential files or sensitive data you need to remove from your Mac completely, you should use CleanMyMac’s File Shredder. It’s specifically designed to securely delete sensitive data and will render it unrecoverable. You can download CleanMyMac X for free here.
Which format to choose?
If your Mac is running macOS High Sierra or later, you have two options for file formats: APFS and Mac OS Extended. Which should you choose? The key point is that disks formatted as APFS won’t be recognized by Macs running versions of macOS older than High Sierra. So if you think you might need to plug the USB drive into a Mac running an older version of macOS, format it as Mac OS Extended.
APFS is optimized for SSD (solid state drive) such as flash drives, so if you reformat a flash drive on a Mac, you should definitely choose APFS (unless you plan to use it with a pre-High Sierra Mac, of course). Even on hard drives, however, APFS is faster and more reliable than Mac OS Extended.
Finally, if you plan to use the USB drive as a destination for Time Machine backups, choose Mac OS Extended. Time Machine can’t currently back up to an APFS disk and if you select one for use with Time Machine, it will offer to reformat it as Mac OS Extended. You can, however, backup an APFS formatted disk to a Mac OS Extended Time Machine drive.
How to format a USB drive to FAT32 on a Mac
The main reason for formatting a USB drive as Fat32 on a Mac is that you want to be able to use the drive on a Windows PC, as well as a Mac — perhaps to transfer files between the two machines. You may also be preparing the drive for use as, say, a storage device for a media player or to record TV programmes on a TV with a USB port.
The fact that Fat32 can be read from and written to on both Mac and Windows makes it very versatile. However, there is a significant limitation — individual files have a maximum size of 4GB. So, if you’re using the USB drive to store large video files, you may run into trouble. There is a solution, however, exFAT. Unlike FAT32, exFAT doesn’t have a maximum file limit. Better still, it can be read from and written to on any Mac running Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later and on Windows.
To format a USB drive in FAT32 or exFAT:
1. Plug the USB drive into your Mac.
2. Go to Applications>Utilities and launch Disk Utility.
3. Click on the USB drive in the sidebar in Disk Utility.
4. Click Erase in the Disk Utility toolbar.
5. Type in a name for the formatted disk.
6. Click on the Format menu and choose either MS-DOS (FAT32) or ExFAT.
7. Click Erase.
Your USB drive will now be erased and re-formatted as either FAT32 or ExFAT, depending on the format you chose in step 6.
How to manage your drives easily
If you look for a quick and easy way to manage your drives, try using CleanMyDrive 2. With its help, you can drag-and-drop files directly to any drive, clean hidden junk from external drives, and check disk stats. It works for all drives, including USB drives, SSD, SD cards, external hard drives. All the drives will be at hand in the menu bar, so you can get to see types of drives you have and manage them easily. CleanMyDrive is absolutely free to use, so download it on the Mac App Store and enjoy!
It’s very easy to format a USB drive on a Mac using Disk Utility. There are a couple of things you should keep in mind, however. The first is that when you format and disk, you will erase all the data currently on it. So if you need that data, make sure you copy it onto another disk before you start. Secondly, there are several formats to choose from, each with advantages and disadvantage. Use the guide above to help you decide which is right for you.
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USB Flash drives are one of luminous and disparate invention to store thousands of files in one convenient location. There are myriad of reasons to use USB flash drives over CD and DVDs. They are portable, fast and easy to use and carry. But after using it for few times, you might need to erase data from USB flash drive to make some more room to store new data or sell it.
A simple deletion will not really erase everything from the USB flash drive securely since any advanced computer user can easily recover them in no time using any data recovery software. You will be amused to see how easy it is to get back all the deleted data in no time. So, if you have any sensitive information stored from company or client information then you must erase them using some third party software to make sure all data are securely deleted and can never be restored using any data recovery software whatsoever. So most people choose to wipe data on computer or wipe Mac clean before selling.
In this guide, we will introduce you to two methods that helps to erase data on USB flash drive permanently. Both are free to implement and can get the job done as quickly as possible to give you the best user experience.
Method #1: Wipe USB Flash Drive by Using In-built Format Option
All Windows and Mac computers comes with an in-built format disk option to erase everything from a USB flash drive. We will show you how to use this feature as your advantage to make sure everything is deleted permanently.
Step 1. Insert the USB flash drive to the computer and let the PC detect it.
Step 2. Open 'My Computer' and right-click on the flash drive disk name.
Step 3. Find 'Format' from the option and make a left click on it with the help of your mouse.
Step 4. You will be able to see a window with the following option.
It will show you the storage capacity and file system. By default, it can be either NTFS or FAT32 and the volume label just indicates the name of the flash drive. Just leave it to the default settings and click on 'Start'.
Step 5. Wait for few minutes until the formatting process is finished. It may take several minutes depending on the size of the USB Flash drive. Make sure to keep it connected while the process is taking place.
Format Thumb Drive Bootable
Step 6. After you see the 'Format Successful' pop up messages, you can eject the flash drive.
Warning: This should delete all the files from the flash drive. But as we mentioned earlier, a simple deletion and formatting doesn't really permanently delete everything from the USB drive, they're still be easily recovered by some data recovery softweare. . If the files are not important then you can use this simple deletion option but if you do have confidential company and client information stored in it then you might have to use a professional external tool to erase everything permanently.
Method #2: How to Completely Wipe USB Flash Drive with SafeWiper for Disk
To reduce the risk that someone might recover sensitive data from your USB flash drive, you need to use eraser software to securely erase data from removable USB disk.
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SafeWiper for Disk is a professional data deletion tool that erases everything from a drive disk permanently. This little tool deletes data from a disk drive as it never existed on the first place. So, if you are erasing confidential and sensitive data from your USB flash drive then it is assured that the data deletion is beyond recovery. No data recovery has succeeded to recover data from any drive after being deleted using SafeWiper. It is easy to use but to use advanced deletion techniques, you will have to pay a small fee to enjoy the full benefits of this software.
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Safewiper for Disk - Permanently Wipe Your USB Drive
- Wipe data and hard drives permanently beyond recovery.
- Permanently wipes data on partitions and disk volumes with advanced wiping algorithm which overwrites your data up to 35 times.
- Uses advanced algorithms (Dod 5220-22.M, US Army, Peter Guttman) to 100% completely wipe data.
- Supports all popular Windows file systems, NTFS, Fat, Fat32.
Step 1 Download and Install Program, Insert Your USB Drive to PC
Download SafeWiper for Disk on your computer, install and run it. SafeWiper for Disk offers to complete hard drives or logical hard drives. So you either completely remove everything from a hard disk or only the hierarchical partitions created from the hard disk. Choose the USB flash drive disk and click on 'Next'.
Step 4 Choose Wiping Algorithm
Click the Setting on the proram, you will see four wiping method in the list. You can use the featured high level deletion techniques including Peter Guttmann Secure Deletion, North Atlantic Treaty Organization_NATO standard, Guttmann Method and so on. The more advnaced wiping algorithm you choose, the more time it will take.
Step 5 Start Deleting Files from Computer (Mac/Windows)
After choosing the wiping method, simply click on 'Wipe' and the program will automatically start erasing everything from the USB flash drive. Wait for few minutes until the data are securely removed from the disk drive.
Now, you can audit the USB flash drive and everything will be permanently erased.
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Note: Realize that the data deleted using this software is permanent and there's no going back after this. So, make sure to generate a full back up before using this software.
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It is recommended to use professional external software like SafeWiper Data Wiper to permanently delete everything from a USB flash drive if it contains any classified and private data to make sure nobody can steal it. Any computer genius can easily recover deleted data from your USB flash drive if you use the simple deletion technique. You must take a step further to maintain the safety and privacy of the data. Hopefully, you guys enjoyed and found this article useful.