By Bryce / Last Updated January 10, 2020

Want to delete everything on a USB flash drive

USB flash drive becomes a kind of popular storage device due to its affordable price and great portability. And there are always motivations for you to delete all things from it; here are two main reasons listed:

  • USB flash drive is full and you want to wipe all data on it to free up disk space.

  • You intend to donate your flash drive and need to delete sensitive data irrecoverably.

How to: delete everything on a USB flash drive [completely]

For different aims for deleting files from flash drive, it’s wise to choose corresponding methods.

If you want to delete all files from flash drive, just to reclaim disk space for storing new data, formatting is enough. However, formatting doesn’t erase data permanently; if you need to prevent deleted files from recovering, wipe the USB flash drive clean to get rid of all files completely.

Delete all files on a flash drive via formatting to get free space

Delete files on flash drive totally via wiping

Delete all files on a flash drive via formatting to get free space

With Disk Management, you can easily format USB flash drive to remove all data. Check out the following steps:

1. Press Windows + R simultaneously, input “diskmgmt.msc” and press Enter to access Disk Management.

2. Locate the partition on a USB flash drive, right-click it and choose Format.

3. In the pop-up small window, choose a proper file system for the partition and click OK.

4. After a while, the partition will be formatted and all data saved on it will be deleted.

Notice: If your USB flash drive is write-protected, you won’t be able to format it. To delete files from it or format it, you need to remove write protection from it at first.

When there are two or multiple partitions on the USB flash drive, if you format a partition that is not the first primary partition, you can receive the error message, “An unexpected error has occurred. Check System Event Log for more information…”. In such a condition, you can employ to third-party USB flash drive format tool or turn to diskpart utility to delete everything including partitions on a USB flash drive. Here are detailed steps:

1. Run Diskpart as administrator.

(Press Windows + R simultaneously, type diskpart and click OK)

2. In Diskpart window, run commands given below:

  • list disk

  • select disk n (“n” is the disk number of the USB flash drive that you need to clean)

  • clean

Clean Disk Diskpart

After a while, a message that "Diskpart succeed in cleaning the disk" will pop up. Then, you can type exit and hit Enter to close this window.

Delete files on flash drive totally via wiping

In fact, the ways mentioned above don’t delete all files on USB flash drive totally, but only make data invisible. The deleted data can be easily recovered by data recovery software. What if you want to erase data on USB flash drive irrecoverably?

AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard can be helpful! It allows you to write zeros to the sectors on a USB flash drive, preventing all software-based file recovery methods from extracting information. Free download it and see it how to delete everything from a USB flash drive completely.

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Right-click the USB flash drive that is going to be wiped and select “Wipe Hard Drive”.

Step 2. Choose “Fill sectors with Zero” to wipe your USB drive and click Next.

Note: If you want to wipe the USB drive more totally and make the deleted files much harder to be retrieved, you can choose the following three methods after upgrading to Professional version.

✎ Fill sectors with random data: It writes random data to all sector on the USB drive, making it tougher for recovery software to find any useful data.
✎ DoD 5220,22-M: A software-based data sanitization method, which can prevent all software-based file recovery methods from recovering data from the drive. It is very safer but takes a longer time.
✎ Gutmann: A software-based data sanitization as well, which can prevent all software-based file recovery methods and most hardware-based recovery method from retrieving information on the wiped flash drive. More passes (35 passes) make the wipe much more secure, but take more time.

Step 3. Click Apply and Proceed to commit operation.

Conclusion

Now, surely you have realized how to delete everything on a USB flash drive. Disk Management, Diskpart, AOMEI Partition Assistant, you can choose one tool based on your own specific demand.