Linux Tactic

Mastering USB Drive Formatting in Linux: 3 Easy Methods

How to Format a USB Drive in Linux: A Step-by-Step Guide

Have you ever plugged in a USB drive to your computer on Linux, only to be greeted with an error message saying the drive is unformatted or unreadable? If that sounds familiar, you’re not alone.

But don’t worry, formatting a USB drive on Linux is an easy task, especially if you follow the steps in this guide. In this article, we’ll cover three different methods for formatting a USB drive on Linux, starting with the command-line approach, followed by the graphical interface method, and concluding with an overview of GParted, a popular partition manager software.

Method 1: Using Terminal Commands

The first method we’ll explore is formatting a USB drive using terminal commands. While working with the command line may seem daunting, it offers many benefits, including faster execution and more granular controls.

Step 1: Check the Current Status of Your USB Drive

Before formatting the USB drive, you need to check its current status. Type the following command to list the partitions on all storage devices connected to your computer:

df -h

Note the device name and the partition where the USB drive is mounted. Together, they will form the path to the USB drive, which you will need in the next steps.

Step 2: Unmount the USB Drive Partition

To format the USB drive, you need to unmount the partition first. Type the following command to unmount the partition:

sudo umount /dev/sdb1

Make sure to change the device and partition path (i.e., /dev/sdb1) with the path you noted in the previous step.

Step 3: Format the USB Drive Partition

Now that the partition is unmounted, you can format it using the following command:

sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1

Again, substitute /dev/sdb1 with the path to your USB drive. The mkfs.vfat command will format the partition in FAT32, which is compatible with most devices.

That’s it! Now your USB drive is formatted and ready to use. Method 2: Using the Disks Utility

If you prefer a graphical interface, the Disks utility provides an easy-to-use interface for managing storage devices on Linux.

Step 1: Open the Disks Utility

Launch the Disks application by searching for ‘Disks’ in your system’s application menu. Step 2: Select the USB Drive

Locate the USB drive you want to format in the list of storage devices on the left-hand side of the window.

If the switch next to the device name is set to ‘Off,’ click it to turn it ‘On.’

Step 3: Format the Partition

Click the gear icon in the top-right corner of the window and select ‘Format Partition.’ If a warning message appears, click ‘Format’ to proceed. Step 4: Confirm the Format

On the next screen, choose the filesystem type, label, and other options as desired.

Then click ‘Format’ once again to confirm the format. That’s it! The Disks utility will format the USB drive for you, and it should be ready to use shortly.

Method 3: Using GParted Software

The final method we’ll explore requires a bit more technical savvy but offers more advanced features. GParted is a partition manager software that allows you to resize, copy, and move partitions, among other things.

Step 1: Install GParted

If you don’t already have GParted installed on your system, you can install it using your system’s package manager or by typing the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install gparted

Step 2: Open GParted

Launch GParted from your system’s application menu or by typing the following command in the terminal:

sudo gparted

Step 3: Select the USB Drive

In the GParted window, select the USB drive you want to format from the list of devices in the upper-right corner of the window. Step 4: Delete the Partition(s)

If the USB drive already has a partition, right-click on it and select ‘Delete.’ Confirm the deletion if prompted.

Step 5: Create a New Partition

With the deleted partitions removed, right-click on the unallocated space and select ‘New.’ Set the filesystem, partition label, and other options as desired and click ‘Add’ to confirm. Step 6: Apply the Changes

Click the ‘Apply’ button in the toolbar to apply the changes to the USB drive.

This process may take some time, depending on the size of the drive. That’s it! GParted will format the USB drive according to your specifications, and it should be ready to use shortly.


In this article, we’ve covered three different methods for formatting a USB drive on Linux: using terminal commands, the Disks utility, and GParted software. Regardless of the method you choose, formatting a USB drive on Linux is a simple task that can save you lots of time and headaches down the road.

So go ahead, give it a try, and let us know which method worked best for you!

When it comes to external storage devices, USB drives are among the most popular and convenient options. With their ease-of-use and versatility, USB drives have become an essential tool for transferring files between devices and running operating systems from boot.

However, like any storage device, USB drives can also suffer from issues that require some attention. That’s why formatting a USB drive is not just an option, but a necessity for any user.

Here, some of the advantages of formatting a USB drive will be further explained.

Debugging and File Cleansing

Formatting a USB drive will not only wipe out all of the files on it but also all data stored in the file allocation table and the master boot record. Doing so will remove any corrupted files, free up space, and enable the USB drive to start fresh.

Starting fresh is crucial, especially if the system has been compromised by malware or viruses. Many times, hackers embed malignant files within USB drives to cause a breach in security or cause damage to the system.

If the USB drive carrying such files is formatted, the software that it carries will inevitably be wiped out, which will negate any chance of harm to the system. Similarly, formatting a USB drive can also fix various errors related to data usage, memory conflicts, and software glitches that might slow down the transfer of data or cause the USB drive to freeze or malfunction.

If such issues continue, it can even render the USB drive useless. Hence, formatting the USB drive can remove any files that might be causing issues with the USB drive, which allows for better performance and longevity over time.

Improved Drive Performance

Keeping a formatted USB drive is ideal because it maintains optimal performance and adapts well to any operating system. If the USB drive is not formatted, old hibernation and page files can easily accumulate in an folders, leading to partition issues and a decrease in the usable storage space.

Such outdated files are often used for backup purposes, but if they are not cleared out regularly, the USB drive will become very slow over time, which can lead to data loss. By formatting the USB drive, users can adapt it to any operating system effectively.

When operating systems are installed, the process usually writes data to the hard disk in a specific way. This makes it possible to read and write similar information on the USB drive.

By formatting the USB drive, the file system used by the drive can be configured to match the operating system. Consequently, this makes it possible for the operating system to interact with the USB drive more efficiently, improving its adaptability and performance.

Additionally, formatting the USB drive can also free up space, which can also lead to better performance and faster data transfer rates, even on slower USB drives.


In conclusion, formatting a USB drive is a crucial process that any user should consider. It enhances the performance of the drive over time and can prevent damage to the system by removing any viruses or malware that may be present on the drive.

Furthermore, it helps to conserve storage space by allowing any operating system to interact with the USB drive in a more efficient manner. So, if you’re having trouble with a corrupt file, low performance, or you simply want to start fresh with your USB drive, formatting it is undoubtedly an excellent option that will provide numerous benefits.

In summary, formatting a USB drive is an important task that can enhance the drive’s performance, adaptability, and longevity. It can also remove malignant files and fix errors that might cause harm to the system or slow down the transfer of data.

Additionally, the process can free up storage space and allow different operating systems to interact with the USB drive more efficiently. Whether you’re looking to erase corrupted files, improve performance, or ensure your USB drive is functioning smoothly, formatting is an excellent option.

By taking the time to format your USB drive regularly, you can avoid potential hazards and ensure your device operates at its best.

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