How To Clean USB Flash Drive in Windows

Many users fail to completely wipe the data on the drives before discarding their USB drives. As a result, snoopers can view any leftover documents, such as contracts, resumes, personal images, ID scans, receipts, etc. Even worse, manually deleted data is easily recoverable using recovery software. This post will share how you can clean USB Flash Drive on Windows PC.

When Do You Need to Clean a USB Flash Drive?

What will you do if your flash drive is outdated or damaged? Some of you might want to make formatting changes, while others might have a new one and toss the old one out. So, wiping data from your USB device is necessary to avoid any unforeseen information leak.

You may also need to clean your USB drive when there is no free space to transfer your files. Also, when a virus accidentally infects your USB flash drive, and you want to remove it, cleaning your flash drive is necessary for safe usage.

So, completely wiping your USB flash drive or hard drive is necessary if you truly want to end these concerns.

How To Clean USB Flash Drive in Windows

How to Clean USB Flash Drive?

Always create a backup of all the files and data on your drive before you begin the formatting procedure. You can accomplish this using any available backup techniques. Connect the drive to a computer, copy all your files to a destination and then format the disk.

However, you might need data recovery software to help you regain your data if you did not back up before formatting.

1] Format

Before beginning, understand that wiping differs from formatting or deleting. After formatting, the data on a USB drive remains; the operating system can’t access it. There are chances of recovering data until specific sectors are overwritten. However, this approach might be sufficient if the USB Drive does not contain sensitive information.

  • Connect the USB drive to your computer, and ensure that File Explorer can recognize it. Next, select Format by right-clicking the drive.
  • Choose the File system you want, and do not select Quick Format because it simply deletes the files on the USB drive and makes data retrievable.Format USB Drive Windows
  • Next, click Start to begin the formatting process and wait for it to finish.

2] DiskPart Tool

The Windows disk partitioning tool Diskpart is a secure way to clean a USB flash drive. 

  • First, connect your USB flash drive to your computer.
  • Next, press Win + S. Find Command Prompt by typing cmd, then right-click it to bring up a drop-down menu where you may select Run as administrator.
  • Type diskpart and press Enter.
  • Type the following command lines one by one and press Enter each time:
diskpart

list disk

select disk <disk number>

list volume

select volume <volume number>

format fs=ntfs (You can also replace NTFS with FAT32 or exFAT.)

exit

The command will secure erase all partitions on the USB device once it is complete. After this process, you must recreate and use volumes and partitions. 

3] DiskPartion Tool (UI)

Disk Partition Tool UI Delete Volume

Follow the steps given below to clean the USB using the Disk Management tool.

  • Open Start.
  • Type Create and format hard disk partitions to access the Disk Management tool.
  • Right-click the removable storage and select the Delete volume option.
  • Click Yes.
  • Next, right-click the Unallocated space and select the New Simple Volume option.
  • Press the Next button.
  • Choose to Assign the following drive letter from the menu.
  • You can choose one of the available letters using the drop-down menu.

Tip: If you manually assign a letter, you should choose it in reverse order (Z, Y, X, etc.).

  • Click Next.
  • Choose Format this volume with the following settings option.
  • Select the NTFS option from the drop-down menu for the File system.

Note: You can only use NTFS or FAT32 using this method. If you want to choose exFAT, use Command Prompt or PowerShell to format the drive.

  • Choose Default under Allocation unit size.
  • Add a label in the Volume label field to identify the flash drive in File Explorer.
  • Select Perform a fast format from the menu. (If you choose to disable the option, it will perform a full format)
  • Check the Enable file and folder compression option. (Optional) 
  • Click the Next button and click Finish.

After completing the steps, this procedure will correct common issues with the flash drive, including data corruption, build a new partition, and set up the file system.

Conclusion

There is no need to elaborate on the significance of privacy and security. So, it would be best never to overlook the importance of creating backups with a reliable backup tool.

You should know that if you manually delete data, anyone can quickly retrieve it and that a formatted drive is no different. So, always clean the USB so that none of your data is recoverable.

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