How to Format USB Stick in Windows [Stepwise Guide]

Sometimes, there may come a time when you need to format USB stick in Windows PC. Follow this page, you’ll learn 4 useful ways to format USB stick to FAT32/NTFS/exFAT, format a bootable USB flash drive, or format a write-protected USB with ease.


By Hedy / Updated on May 12, 2023

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Why need to format USB stick?

On Windows 10, formatting is a great option to prepare a USB drive for data storage, and it is also the quickest way to resolve many common USB issues. For example, when you encounter any one of the following scenarios, you may need to format USB stick:

USB has a slow speed in reading and writing files.
USB becomes RAW, write-protected, and not accessible due to data corruption.
✫ USB is incompatible with a different operating system.
Want to format USB flash drive to full capacity.
✫ Remove all data before getting rid of the USB device.
✫ Can't store a single file larger than 4GB on USB stick.
✫ Can't create a partition bigger than 32GB on FAT32 formatted USB drive.

Should I format USB to NTFS or FAT32 or exFAT?

When you want to format USB stick Windows 10, you may wonder which file system should be chosen, NTFS, FAT32, or exFAT? Let’s have a look at the benefits of each, then you can decide which one is most suitable for your USB.

◤ FAT32 (File Allocation Table 32):

✔ Compatible with almost all operating systems

✔ Take up less space on USB stick

✔ Less disk writing operations

◤ NTFS(New Technology File System):

✔ Support storing files bigger than 4GB

✔ Available to create a partition larger than 32GB

✔ Faster data transfer speed

✔ Less fragment and wasted space

◤ exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table):

✔ Read/write files larger than 4 GB

✔ Work well with large-sized partitions up to 8 TB in size

✔ Better space management

If you wish to format USB stick to FAT32, you have to bear its 4GB size limit. What’s more, the way NTFS works is not recommended for USB flash drives, that's why exFAT for USB format becomes popular these days. It combines the benefits of FAT32 (small and fast) and NTFS (large file size supported). Due to their respective pros and cons, keep in mind that the choice of USB format is up to your needs.

How to format a USB stick on Windows 10/11/8/7?

Formatting a USB drive is as easy as formatting any other drive on your computer. No matter why you need to format USB stick Windows 10 or what file system you will choose, Windows 10 offers several tools to get it done, including File Explorer, Disk Management, and Command Prompt. Moreover, we bring you a professional third-party USB format tool.

This part will walk you through the four step-by-step guides on how to format a USB stick on Windows 10 and other Windows operating systems.

Warning: These methods will erase all data on the USB drive. Please make sure you have backed up all important files before proceeding.

▌  1. Use AOMEI Partition Assistant - the easiest way for all users

To get the USB drive formatted successfully and smoothly, it's a wise move to apply a third-party format tool. Here we recommend you try AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. It's a free yet powerful USB format tool that assists all levels of users to format a USB flash drive, USB hard drive, pen drive, thumb drive, and SD card to FAT32, NTFS, or exFAT within three simple clicks.

Prominent features:
Format USB flash drive larger than 32GB to FAT32
 Format a bootable USB flash drive
✡ Format a write-protected USB drive to FAT32
✡ Format USB to NTFS, FAT32, EXT2/3/4, exFAT
✡ Reformat USB to fix the "file is too large for destination USB" error
 Convert USB from FAT32 to NTFS without Formatting.

Now let's see the easiest way to format USB stick in Windows 11/10/8/7/XP/Vista:

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
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Step 1. Connect the USB stick with a running PC, install and run AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. In the main interface, right-click the USB drive and choose "Format Partition".


Step 2. Select the file system based on your demand. Then, click "OK".


Step 3. Then, you will return to the main interface. Click "Apply" and "Proceed" to commit the operation.


▌ 2. Use File Explorer - the fastest way in Windows

Apart from a third-party format utility, Windows still has inbuilt tools that allow you to format USB stick. Let’s start with Windows File Explorer, a free and fast way to perform basic operations on USB such as format USB to NTFS/FAT32/exFAT and delete files from USB. But if you want to troubleshoot some USB issues, File Explorer is not the first choice. You can follow the steps below to format your USB drive now:

Step 1. Press the "Win + E" keys to open File Explorer.

Step 2. Choose "This PC" from the left pane, right-click the target USB flash drive and select "Format".

Step 3. Under the File system section, select NTFS, FAT32 or exFAT for the USB. Tick "Quick Format" and click "Start".


▌ 3. Use Disk Management - the handy way for most users

Disk Management is another Windows built-in program that is available to format USB stick. Compared with File Explorer, it’s more powerful and convenient. For example, you can use Disk Management to format RAW USB, create and delete volume on USB. Here are the steps to format a USB flash drive:

Step 1. Right-click on the window icon and click "Disk Management" to open Disk Management.

Step 2. Right-click on the USB drive, and choose "Format".

Step 3. In the new window, set the volume label, file system, and allocation unit size as you wish. Tick "Perform a quick format" and click "OK" to start formatting.


▌ 4. Use Command Prompt - the advanced way for expert users

Windows Command Prompt has similar functions as Disk Management but needs more superb skills, especially on command lines. It can tackle some USB issues by formatting with different commands. Follow the steps to see how to utilize this tool to format USB stick.

Step 1. Type "cmd" in the Search bar, right-click Command Prompt and select "Run as administrator".

Step 3. Type the following command lines one by one and hit "Enter" each time:

list disk

select disk n (n is the number of USB stick)


create partition primary

format fs=fat32 quick (You can replace fat32 with ntfs or exfat.)




With the four effective methods displayed in this post, you can easily format USB stick to any file system in Windows 11/10/8/7. Worth to mention that Windows built-in tools cannot format a drive larger than 32GB to FAT32, but AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard can. 

If you upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional, you can enjoy more outstanding features such as recovering lost partitions, extending system partitions, migrating OS to SSD, converting MBR to GPT, etc. For Windows Server users, the Server edition helps a lot.

Hedy · Staff Editor
Hedy is an editor of AOMEI Technology. She is very good at solving problems of partition management, and she wants to share all the problems she had already solved to users who met the same questions.