Low Level Format Tool for a USB

Formatting is the process of configuring hard disks, allowing you to store information on it. Formatting defining the positions of the tracks and sectors of the hard disk. When a low-level format procedure is performed on a disk that already has data on it, all of the data on that disk is erased permanently. Low-level reformatting is typically used for making sure data can never be retrieved or, if a disk has become corrupted, to attempt to give a fresh start in hopes of recovering its functionality.

Laptop computer with USB cords
Modern external drives typically can connect to a desktop or laptop via the USB port.
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HDD LFF Low Level Format Tool

HDD Guru's HDD LFF Low Level Format Tool for Windows can erase and low-level-format USB drives, as well as SATA, IDE, SCSI, SAS and FireWire drives. The program also caters to SD and Memory Stick flash cards. This software's free version, which can also be installed on a USB thumb drive, formats disks as a maximum speed of 50 MB per second. HDD Guru offers the program for free download when it's used for personal, at-home application, but the software's commercial license comes with a fee.

HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool

Hewlett-Packard's USB Disk Storage Format Tool, available for free download, works with any USB flash drive and encompasses FAT, FAT32 and NTFS partition types. This lightweight tool, which runs on Windows 2000 and XP operating systems, emphasizes speed, offering a “Quick Format” feature with optional compression. HP's USB Disk Storage Format Tool also allows users to create DOS startup disks.


KillDisk, from the developers at Active@, completely wipes out partitions, logical drives and even unused disk space. This program works on USB and floppy hard disk drives and supports SSD, IDE, SATA and SCSI drives. Like HDD Guru's tool, this program can boot from a USB thumb drive in DOS mode. As a DOS program, KillDisk runs on any computer with an Intel chip, including Apple Macintosh computers that fit this description. Active@ offers both free-to-use and pay-to-download versions of KillDisk. The Pro version, which comes at a cost, adds data verification features, user-defined erase methods and a free year of product updates.

Other Tools

Some manufacturers offer formatting software tools that cater to their specific USB hard disk drives. These tools typically come on a disc included with the hardware or can be downloaded from the manufacturer's website. Examples of manufacturer-specific, low-level formatting tools for USB drives include Hitachi's XL3000 3TB Drive Format Utility for Windows and Seagate's DiscWizard.