How to Format a USB Memory Stick Storage Device

By Tyson Simmons

USB memory sticks are external storage devices used to back up your computer data or to transfer files from one computer to another. Like any drive, sometimes they need to be reformatted. This may be to change the type of formatting system used on the device or to rid it of a virus that was contracted unknowingly. Since these sticks are portable and often used in several devices, contracting a virus is not uncommon.

Step 1

Plug the USB memory stick into a USB slot on your computer. Wait for the computer to detect the device and open the the AutoPlay dialog box.

Step 2

Select the "Open device to view files" option. All the files on your memory stick will be shown here.

Step 3

Remove the files you want to keep and store them on another device. Close the Explorer window.

Step 4

Click "Start" and double-click "Computer."

Step 5

Right-click on the USB memory stick drive, and select the "Format" option. A dialog box will open with all the formatting options available to this device.

Step 6

Make sure that the capacity for the drive is correct and that the file system is set to what you desire. Most USB memory sticks are formatted with FAT32 so they can be used with a wide variety of devices, including Mac computer.

Step 7

Enter a name for the device under Volume Label and click the "Format" button. All the files on your USB memory stick will now be erased and the drive will be reformatted.

Tips & Warnings

  • Back up all the files on your USB memory stick to one folder, so they can be easily put back on the drive.
  • Formatting a memory stick usually take a few seconds to a minute, depending on the size of the device.
  • Make sure you have all of your files backed up, because as formatting erases all files on the memory stick.