How to Clear a USB Flash Drive

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USB flash drives are external storage devices.

A USB drive is an easy-to-use device for transferring files from computer to computer, but when drives are full or the files are no longer needed, you may want to clear everything off them. There are two methods for clearing data off of a USB flash drive -- formatting the drive or just manually deleting all the files. Both methods can be performed quickly the next time you need an empty drive.

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Step 1

Insert your drive into a USB port. Wait for the computer to read the drive and load the content. Click the Windows "Start" menu, click “Computer” and open the flash drive.

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Step 2

Click on “Organize” and choose “Folder and Search Options.”

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Step 3

Click on the “View” tab and select the radio dial next to "Show Hidden Files and Folders.” Press “OK.”

Step 4

Click in a blank area inside the flash drive window and press "Ctrl-A" to select all the files. Press the "Delete" key and wait for the files to delete.

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Step 5

Right-click the "Recycle Bin" and choose "Empty Recycle Bin."

Step 6

Insert your jump drive into a USB port. Click the Windows "Start" menu and choose “Computer.”

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Step 7

Right-click on the flash drive and choose “Format…” from the context menu.

Step 8

Choose the check box that says “Quick Format” if you want a full erase of the flash drive. Leave that box unchecked if you want it to go through and thoroughly clear the drive’s contents.

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Step 9

Press the “Start” button to begin the formatting. A pop-up message will appear when the process is complete. The flash drive should be empty and ready for use.

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