How to format USB flash drives correctly?

ipwn3r456

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Mar 21, 2012
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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.
 

ipwn3r456

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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.
 

ipwn3r456

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Does it all apply to all capacity flash drives? I have a 8GB flash drive. Does it matter?
 

ipwn3r456

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Should i put it all to default when you don't know what to choose when formatting any hard drives as such?
 

ipwn3r456

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Alright thanks for the help. I will format my flash drives sometimes later when i back up all my files lol. :D
 

joeman99

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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.
 

richierich3366

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And the REAL best answer goes to.....drum roll please!!!!!!! JOEMAN99!!!!!!!!!
 

AME_Florida

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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.
 

david Dornyoh

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DracInTheBox

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Feb 24, 2015
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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
 

Cyrious

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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-in-exfat/
 

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