Predominantly, hard drives are formatted to fix a broken computer or laptop. But that’s not the only reason why you might need to format your external hard drive. It would be best to remember that disk formatting is much more permanent than deleting files and sending them to the Trash. It will completely erase your data, and if you haven’t taken a backup, there’s no way you can retrieve this data once the drive has been formatted. Therefore, you must always create a backup of the files and folders before going down this path.
Before discussing the purpose of formatting thumb drive Mac or any external drive of your choice for your Mac or Windows computer, let’s look at how to format it.
First and foremost, any drive will be compatible with both Windows and macOS if you format it properly. However, out of the box, most drives are compatible with Windows systems, and you need to reformat them according to your convenience. Reformatting is a great option when you plan to switch operating systems.
When it comes to formatting, you have to select the right file format, and your options are as follows:
- NTFS or new technology file system is only used with Windows computers.
- HFS+ or hierarchical file system plus is used with HDDs and not SSDs.
- APFS or Apple file system is the new kid in the block and works great with SSDs. The format is intended for external SSDs and built-in drivers for newer Mac systems.
- exFAT is the preferred option if you plan to transfer files between Mac and Windows.
- Both Windows and macOS devices support FAT32.
You can reformat a drive in Windows by plugging in the drive, clicking Windows Explorer, right-clicking the drive, and selecting Format from the menu. Choose the file system you want and name it under Volume Label. Ensure the Quick Format box is checked. Once this is done, open the drive in Windows Explorer.
For reformatting your drive in macOS, you need to plug in the drive and launch Finder. Then, you need to click Go and choose Utilities. Then, open Disk Utility and select your external drive. You have to click Erase to remove data. You can give a name to your drive and choose the file system you want from the menu. Click Erase again to reformat the drive, and then you can open the file by clicking on the external drive’s icon on the system’s desktop.
There are several reasons why you would want to format your external drive. The most obvious is that the drive isn’t functioning or shows a corrupt data error. In such cases, the only option is to format it so you can use the drive. The other reasons are mentioned below.
- Remove the Data
Removing the data is one of the most common reasons for formatting an external hard drive. If you are erasing or removing the data for your use, like setting it as a secondary drive or switching it to a different computer, you can format it. But it is not completely secure.
If you are giving away the external drive to somebody else and don’t want the new owner to access the data on your drive, you need to erase the files and folders permanently. This will ensure that your drive is secure and your data is safe. You don’t have to worry about someone stealing sensitive information.
- Planning to change the Operating System
So, you have been using a Windows computer. But that doesn’t mean you will always use a Windows computer. If you plan to switch to macOS and wish to continue using the same external hard drive, the solution is to format the drive. You can start fresh with a new operating system and format the drive to become compatible with it. This way, you will eliminate all the previous settings and system files. You will also ensure that old malware or bloatware is not carried forward from your old device to your new device.
- You want to Change the File System
For your external hard drive, there’s more than one system available. For example, Windows systems use the NTFS file system, while macOS drives use the HFS+ system. If it is an Ubuntu drive, the format will be Ext4. FAT is the only file system that all operating systems can read, and that’s why it is the default for USB thumb drives. So, if you wish to change your drive’s file system, you need to format it.
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These are some of the purposes of formatting your external drive. So, whenever you think of changing your OS or want to sell your external drive, don’t forget to format it so that it is compatible and functions smoothly. Also, ensure to take a backup of your data.