Sign-in / Sign-up
Your question

How to format USB flash drives correctly?

Tags:
  • USB Flash
  • Format
  • Storage
Last response: in Storage
June 7, 2012 2:38:05 AM

Hey community,

I want to know how to format a USB flash drive correctly, I know you choose FAT32 for file system, but don't know which allocation file size should i choose. Theres 2048, 4096, 8192 bytes, and 16, 32, 64 kilobytes. Does anyone know what allocation file size to choose? And also, when i choose my file systems, it have choices of NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. What is exFAT? Any comments or suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks.

More about : format usb flash drives correctly

a b G Storage
June 7, 2012 3:05:22 AM

4096 is the standard. Also, NTFS is the common file format for most drives.

exFAT is extended File Allocation Table. It's used when NTFS can't be used.
m
0
l
June 7, 2012 3:12:41 AM

fantastik250 said:
4096 is the standard. Also, NTFS is the common file format for most drives.

exFAT is extended File Allocation Table. It's used when NTFS can't be used.


Umm, i meant USB flash drives. It is still the same thing? And also, isn't it FAT32 for flash drives? Correct me if I am wrong.
m
0
l
Related resources
Can't find your answer ? Ask !
a b G Storage
June 7, 2012 3:16:35 AM

Yes, I am talking about USB flash drives. NTFS file format is used among all hard drives. The previous file formats where due to file size limitations.
m
0
l
June 7, 2012 3:18:58 AM

fantastik250 said:
Yes, I am talking about USB flash drives. NTFS file format is used among all hard drives. The previous file formats where due to file size limitations.


Does it all apply to all capacity flash drives? I have a 8GB flash drive. Does it matter?
m
0
l
a b G Storage
June 7, 2012 3:20:14 AM

Of course, there are some situations where a FAT 32 or FAT formats are needed such as using the USB drive as a operating system and such.
m
0
l
June 7, 2012 3:26:38 AM

fantastik250 said:
Of course, there are some situations where a FAT 32 or FAT formats are needed such as using the USB drive as a operating system and such.


Should i put it all to default when you don't know what to choose when formatting any hard drives as such?
m
0
l
a b G Storage
June 7, 2012 3:32:30 AM

Whether it'd be FAT 32 or NTFS, it is okay. The default is also 4096. So leaving it at default is sometimes the best choice.
m
0
l
June 7, 2012 3:34:32 AM

fantastik250 said:
Whether it'd be FAT 32 or NTFS, it is okay. The default is also 4096. So leaving it at default is sometimes the best choice.


Alright thanks for the help. I will format my flash drives sometimes later when i back up all my files lol. :D 
m
0
l
June 7, 2012 3:34:39 AM

Best answer selected by ipwn3r456.
m
0
l
a b G Storage
June 7, 2012 3:36:19 AM

Also, don't format your USB flash drives too much. It will decrease the life of your flash drive compared to Hard Drive Disks.
m
0
l
August 26, 2012 9:41:30 AM

For USB Flash drives you should choose exFAT.

The only exception is if you plan to use the drive to transfer files to Mac OS X or Linux operating systems without exFAT support. In which case you would use FAT32


FILESYSTEM
exFAT can detect flash media, and reacts respectably. It will make very few extra, unnecessary writes, and store files randomly throughout the storage medium. This will more than maximize the lifespan of the drive, and will speed up transfers substantially.

NTFS is not very friendly to flash media, at least to my knowledge. It makes many many extra disk writes almost constantly, and will degrade the life of the flash drive. It is not faster, and kills your drive faster.



ALLOCATION SIZE
Allocation size should be adjusted with respect to what the drives intended use is. If you don't know quite yet, leave it at default.

For many small files, allocate as small as possible.

For many large files, allocate as large as possible.

For a few large files, allocate as large as possible.

For a few small files, allocate as large as possible.

Small file = <25kb
Large file = >1mb

[Explained]: Allocation size is the size of each little "block" that makes up the entire partition. A files will take up as many of these little "blocks" as it requires. Any remainder left over in the final "block" that the file occupies will be unusable.

Small allocation = [ |x|x| | | |x| | |]
Pro: Files will fit more snugly with smaller allocation, thus maximizing total space.
Con: The performance will suffer.

Large allocation = [---xx| |x-----|xxxx|]
Pro: Read/Writes are faster, great for larger files
Con: Small files take up more disk space than expected, losing much when dealing with many small files. (smaller than allocation size)








***Had to correct the information in this thread due to it being on the first page of Google.
m
2
l
June 29, 2014 4:20:27 PM

joeman99 said:
For USB Flash drives you should choose exFAT.

The only exception is if you plan to use the drive to transfer files to Mac OS X or Linux operating systems without exFAT support. In which case you would use FAT32


FILESYSTEM
exFAT can detect flash media, and reacts respectably. It will make very few extra, unnecessary writes, and store files randomly throughout the storage medium. This will more than maximize the lifespan of the drive, and will speed up transfers substantially.

NTFS is not very friendly to flash media, at least to my knowledge. It makes many many extra disk writes almost constantly, and will degrade the life of the flash drive. It is not faster, and kills your drive faster.



ALLOCATION SIZE
Allocation size should be adjusted with respect to what the drives intended use is. If you don't know quite yet, leave it at default.

For many small files, allocate as small as possible.

For many large files, allocate as large as possible.

For a few large files, allocate as large as possible.

For a few small files, allocate as large as possible.

Small file = <25kb
Large file = >1mb

[Explained]: Allocation size is the size of each little "block" that makes up the entire partition. A files will take up as many of these little "blocks" as it requires. Any remainder left over in the final "block" that the file occupies will be unusable.

Small allocation = [ |x|x| | | |x| | |]
Pro: Files will fit more snugly with smaller allocation, thus maximizing total space.
Con: The performance will suffer.

Large allocation = [---xx| |x-----|xxxx|]
Pro: Read/Writes are faster, great for larger files
Con: Small files take up more disk space than expected, losing much when dealing with many small files. (smaller than allocation size)








***Had to correct the information in this thread due to it being on the first page of Google.



And the REAL best answer goes to.....drum roll please!!!!!!! JOEMAN99!!!!!!!!!
m
0
l
November 5, 2014 11:50:21 AM

I know I'm late to the party, but I thought that I might throw my hat into the ring and expand on Joeman99's excellent answer and advice.

If you foresee using your USB drive on a router to share files or to stream using the router's DLNA capabilities you might want consider FAT32 or NTFS over exFAT. It has been my experience that many routers do not support the exFAT file system. This is true independent of the media, e.g. Flash Drive, Hard Drive etc. At the very least confirm that your device supports exFAT, for example I'm not sure my Roku, or smart TV supports exFAT.

Just thought I would share that caveat. Hope this helps with others with their decision.
m
0
l
November 20, 2014 4:06:14 AM

ipwn3r456 said:
Hey community,

I want to know how to format a USB flash drive correctly, I know you choose FAT32 for file system, but don't know which allocation file size should i choose. Theres 2048, 4096, 8192 bytes, and 16, 32, 64 kilobytes. Does anyone know what allocation file size to choose? And also, when i choose my file systems, it have choices of NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT. What is exFAT? Any comments or suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks.


m
0
l
February 24, 2015 8:20:29 PM

Just wanted to state that formatting to FAT32 is not fast when the device's storage space is 125GB. I've been formatting mine using command prompt and after 2 and a half hours its at 50%. But i have to use FAT32 since i intend to use my flashdrive to store music for my car stereo
m
0
l
7 minutes ago

Really good answer from Joeman helped me out. Also I'd like to add, iOS now fully supports exFAT so that wasn't on my radar when deciding which format I needed. As far as actual steps in reformatting a drive and some more pros and cons to different types, I found a cool guide here: http://www.getusb.info/how-to-format-a-usb-flash-drive-...
m
0
l