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How to Format Your External Hard Drive

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External hard drives, and USB drives in general, are the great thing that lets you save important data, without cluttering your main drive. This allows you to have all the important data at your disposal and easy to access, while having the operating system drive dedicated primarily to work, offering the best possible productivity.

Simply, external hard drives are a nice addition to the whole set of handy utilities and tools that make your life much easier. Now, if you have one of them, you probably want to use it, and that usually demands that you format it in a way that will suit your Operating System, size of your files, etc. For that reason, it is good to know how you can manage that and here are the easiest ways you can do it.

How to Format Your External Hard Drive

Formatting your hard drive is no hard task and can be done with ease and in multiple ways. However, have in mind that not all formats are equal, and that, for instance FAT32 can be read by both Mac and Windows, yet it can only hold files that are up to 4GB in size. exFAT, on the other hand, doesn’t have that sort of limitations; nonetheless, it doesn’t work with Time Machine and File History.

NTFS is probably the best format for Windows because it accepts all file sizes and works with both Time Machine and File History, but in the case of Linux and Mac, it can only be used for reading such files. In other words, be sure what sort of files suit you, and following that do the formatting.

How to Format Your External Hard Drive on Windows through Windows Explorer

If you own a Windows machine the best format choice is the NTFS, and the whole process of formatting the drive can be done in the following way:

  • First, plug in the drive that you want to format into the computer and go to My PC (Windows Explorer).
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  • Once you do that, right-click the external drive

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    and select “Format”, from the drop-down menu.

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  • Choose the preferred file type, allocation unit size, and volume label, and mark the square next to “Quick Format”.
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  • Go to Start,

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    confirm that you want to format the disk by pressing OK and that is it.

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  • Your speedy external hard drive is now formatted. In the information window that tells you that the format is finished, just press OK, and your job is done. You can freely use your new formatted external hard drive.
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    How to Format Your External Hard Drive on Windows with the Help of Disk Management

    In the case you want to explore additional ways to format your external hard drive, you should know that that can also be managed through the Disk Management feature.

  • In this approach, as you may guess, you first need to plug in the drive and activate the Disk Management, by going to My PC,

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    right-clicking on it, and selecting “Manage”, from the drop-down menu.

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  • Once the Computer Management opens, enter Disk Management, and find the drive that you want to format.
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  • When you find it, right-click on it and go to Format.
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  • Select volume label, file system, and allocation unit size, and mark the square next to “Performa a quick format”.
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  • Press OK,

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    confirm that you want to make the format by pressing OK, in the newly opened window

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    and that is it. Your external hard drive is now successfully formatted.

  • How to Format Your External Hard Drive on Mac

    In the case you own the Mac, this what needs to be done:

  • First, plug in the external hard drive and open the Finder.
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  • Once you do that, go to the Go menu

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    and select Utilities from the drop-down menu.

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  • Enter Disk Utility,

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    select your external hard drive,

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    and press Erase.

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  • Select the drive name and file format from the drop-down menu, press Erase

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    and that is it. Your external hard drive will now be formatted at the desired file type.

  • About author

    Miodrag Matović is a tech geek who loves writing about everything related to computers. He’s a graduate graphic designer, but found his passion elsewhere. In his free time, he likes to spend time with his family, dance with his wife, and put together new computers.
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