A selection of the best programs for different types of formatting a hard disk drive (HDD, SSD, RAID) and removable media storage devices (USB flash drives, SD card).
Tips for Formatting a Hard Drive on Mac: Even though formatting doesn’t seem like a big deal, still it can be very helpful. So, it is important that you stay active and keep all things in mind. Here are some tips that might help you when you are about to format a Mac hard drive.
List of hard drive format tools:
Standard Windows formatting tools
Windows XP-10 operating system has a built-in program to format a hard drive. Which is done in the following way:
- Open “File Explorer” (or any other file manager),
- Go to “This PC”,
- Click on the needed drive in 'Devices and drives' section,
- Select “Format...” from the context menu,
- Press “Start...” to start formatting.
This is the easiest way of formatting a media storage device on a PC without any additional tools.
Despite the simplicity of this method, all the steps should be performed only if you understand why you're doing it. Before you agree on formatting, carefully check whether you've chosen the right disk.
An alternative way to format in Windows OS 7 / 8 / 10
- Various systems have different paths to Disk Management therefore the easiest way is to type 'management' in Windows search bar.
- In the search results find 'Computer management' and click on the icon.
- Via the left menu go to 'Disk Management'.
- Right-click on the desired section and select 'Format...'. Since the process runs during the OS operation, 'Format' command will be inactive on the system partition.
- Next select the new partition label, future file system type and cluster required size (if you don't know what size you need, mark 'by default').
- Leave the box next to 'Perform a quick format' checked, if you need to perform quick formatting. If you want to deeply clean a partition, uncheck this box.
- After you press 'OK', the system will ask for confirmation and you have to press 'OK' again.
Formatting a hard disk drive via Windows command prompt
1. In order to start the process of formatting, open the command prompt (console) on your computer. In order to do this, press Win + R on the keyboard and in the opened window 'Run' type “CMD”.
Note. Formatting requires administrator rights (“Run as administrator in context menu” option). If you try to format a disk without it, the access will be denied.
2. In order to perform formatting via the console, you should use the following commands:
3. Carefully read what is written in the console and perform further actions according to your case.
Full hard drive formatting via HDD Low Level Format Tool
Low-level formatting optimizes the structure of an HDD. This is useful when preparing for the reinstallation of your operating system. At the same time via it you can also solve the problems with the bad sectors of a hard disk.
HDD Low Level Format Tool is suitable for low level formatting. In addition to its main functions, this hard disk format software can be used for reading SMART-indicators and checking read errors, as well as the operation time of a disk and etc.
How to format a hard drive completely:
- After HDD Low Level Format is installed, run it.
- In 'Device selection' select the hard drive you need (if more than one HDD is connected to your PC). You can distinguish one hard drive from another by their size. Click on 'Continue >>>'.
- Go to 'LOW-LEVEL FORMAT' tab.
- For quick formatting (deletion of partitions or MBR record) select 'Perform quick wipe' option.
- If want to perform full formatting of a hard drive, you have to disable the above mentioned option.
- Before you start full formatting of a hard drive, double-check whether you've selected the right drive. Only then press 'Format this device'.
AOMEI Partition Assistant
AOMEI Partition Assistant offers a number of useful features, including low-level formatting of built-in and external hard drives. The latest version is 8.1.0, which you can download at the link:
Mac Formatting Software
The program interface is quite similar to standard Windows utilities, so it's pretty easy to understand:
1. AOMEI Partition Assistant main window automatically displays the disk with the installed OS. If you need to format another device, select it in the program right panel (Disk 1, Disk 2 and etc).
2. In the left menu lower block (Partition operations) select 'Format partition'.
3. Specify Partition label, File System and Cluster size (we've already explained these options above). Confirm it by pressing OK.
4. You will have to restart the system in order to launch formatting. Once the operation is confirmed, there will be no way back, so make sure to select the right drive and settings.
5. After you reboot the computer, AOMEI Partition Assistant will perform all of these steps and as a result you'll have a blank hard drive or a blank partition you've selected for formatting.
DiskWipe is a free formatting software for erasing data from a HDD with no possibility of its future recovery. This program uses several proven algorithms (Dod 5220-22.M, US Army and Peter Guttman) and its advanced settings allow to choose the depth of formatting.
It's very simple to format a device via DiskWipe utility:
1. Download DiskWipe.
2. Run the disk format tool. In the left panel you can find all the devices available for formatting.
3. Select the device you need and click on 'Wipe Disk' in the top menu.
4. Pre-configured advanced settings will open. For full and irrevocable formatting, you can mark all the available fields and specify 'Highest' in the right block.
5. After you're finished with the settings, click on 'OK' in order to start the process of formatting.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager
Paragon Hard Disk Manager has several options for working with HDD partitions (splitting, recovering and other). This program is a so-called shareware, i.e. during the test period which lasts for 30 days you can format the needed device in different modes.
The formatting process is intuitive:
1. Start Hard Disk Manager.
2. Via the sidebar go to 'Disks and Partitions' section.
3. From the list of suggested devices select the right one and press 'Format Partition'.
4. Specify the type of your future file system and the name of a volume and then click 'OK'.
5. The task will be queued. In order to apply changes, you have to press the check mark in the top menu.
6. After confirming the operation (via 'OK' button), there will be no way back.
Paragon Hard Disk Manager not only formats a device, but also creates a new partition with a specified file system, so after you reboot the system you'll be able to use the disk without any additional actions.
Jun 08, 2020 • Filed to: Solve Mac Problems • Proven solutions
There are lots of people who mistakenly think that the USB drives and hard drives format don’t really matter. But the reality is quite different. Whether it is a hard drive or USB or internal drive, Mac uses different format support. So, you can’t simply use the same drive with both Windows and Mac. As a result, you will need to format the hard drive for Mac. Using the Mac preferred file system is important otherwise the files will be of no use to you.
In this article, we are going to discuss how to format a hard drive for Mac and some related terms too.
Part 1. Situations When Formatting a Hard Drive on Mac:
Before you get deep, it is important that you understand what is drive formatting. Some people confuse the term with reformatting. Basically, formatting is the process of preparing the storage devices such as hard disk drive, solid-state drive, USB flash drive, or any other for initial use.
The basic operation is termed as low-level formatting which means erasing the existing data on the disk. But it leaves the track to recover the data using the recovery tool.
There is another term related to disk formatting and it is called reformatting. It is called high-level formatting as it is used to prepare the disk for different file system format. It is usually done during the OS installation or adding a new disk. Reformatting is done to free the storage space from the previous content stored in it.
You can consider disk formatting in macOS in the various circumstances. Whether your system has corrupted data, damaged software, impending system upgrade, storage is full, or it is running slow, formatting will fix a lot of issues. Take a look at the scenarios given below and you will be sure that disk formatting will help you.
- If you want to quickly erase all content from the drive permanently without leaving a trace of data on it.
- If you want to change the format of the disk such as PC format like FAT or exFAT to Mac format.
- If you see the message that the disk is not readable by Mac.
- If you want to resolve a disk issue that can’t be fixed by Repair feature of Disk Utility.
- If the macOS installer can’t see the disk or unable to install it.
- In case the macOS installer says that the drive can’t be installed because it is a part of Apple RAID.
Under all these situations, formatting is most likely to fix your problems and you will be able to use the drive on Mac.
Part 2. How to Format a Hard Drive on Mac:
Formatting is a very simple procedure which is operated in a similar way for all sorts of storage media. So, whether you wish to format the internal hard drive, external drive, or a USB flash drive, the procedure is the same for all. Here is the step by step guide you need to follow to format the hard disk on Mac. Before you erase a disk, make sure that you have a backup of the files you want to keep.
Step 1: Connect the USB drive or external drive to Mac and launch the Disk Utility from Applications.
Step 2: From the left side panel, pick the volume or the drive that you want to format and switch to the Erase tab.
Step 3: As you click on the Erase button, you will see several fields in the section. Enter the given information-
- Name- Enter a name for the disk such as Macintosh HD/SSD/USB Drive or anything else you want.
- Format- You have to choose a Mac supported format from the list. The most recommended format is APFS or Mac OS Extended (Journaled). There are numerous other formats too which will be displayed in the drop-down menu. You can select any format as per your requirement.
- Scheme- If this option is available, then you should choose the GUID Partition Map from the option.
Step 4: After specifying the fields, click on the Erase button at the bottom of the window and Disk Utility will format the drive.
Once the formatting is complete, you can use the disk for a backup drive, sharing, time machine backup, or any other requirement. In case the drive doesn’t appear in the Disk Utility interface, you will have to disconnect all the extra and non-essential devices connected to Mac. Make sure that the External drive is on and connected properly. Restart your Mac and then carry out the task.
Part 3. How to Perform Mac Data Recovery After Format:
There are situations when Mac users don’t get the chance to create a backup of their data and forced to format the hard drive. But you don’t need to panic. You can get your hands on Recoverit data recovery for Mac. If you have mistakenly formatted the data that you still need, Recoverit is the best chance you have to get the files back. It is a complete data recovery solution which is capable of recovering all kinds of files with wide format support of 1000+.
You can download the software from the official website and install it immediately on Mac. Once the setup is complete, follow the steps below to recover formatted drive files.
Step 1: Specify Location:
Run the program and specify a location from the main drive. If data is lost from an external drive or USB flash drive, then you’ll have to connect the drive with the system and then specify the location.
Click on the Start button to initiate the scanning process.
Step 2: Scan Results:
Depending on the data that is lost or deleted, scanning will take some time. As the process finishes, the files will be displayed on the screen according to their respective format.
You can decide whether you want to look for files according to file type or file path. You can also stop the scanning process in between if the results are displayed before the scanning finishes.
Step 3: Preview and Recover Formatted Data:
As soon as the data is displayed on the screen, you can have a preview of the files. Select as many files as you want and have a preview of the files. Tap on the Recover button to save the files on your system.
As you are retrieving the files, keep in mind not to save the files in the previous location. Depending on the amount of recovery, it will take a while and ultimately you’ll have your files back. If the normal scan doesn’t work for you, Recoverit also has a Deep scan mode to look deeper for the deleted and lost files.
Part 4. Different Formats of Hard Drive for Mac:
Mac Hard drives have wide support for formats but there are two major formats which are preferably used by the Mac users. It also depends on the macOS version you are using. The key point to consider is that the drives formatted with the newer versions won’t be recognized by the older devices. So, when you are formatting a USB drive, it will be ideal to choose the right format which is Mac OS Extended.
The supported Mac formats for the drive are explained below:
The APFS format is optimal for Solid State Drive such as flash drives. Hence, if you are formatting a flash drive, you should definitely choose the APFS format. Along with the flash drives, this format is also faster and more reliable for Mac hard drives.
Mac OS Extended:
Talking about Mac OS Extended, it is perfectly suitable if you want to use a drive for backup. The Time Machine feature of Mac still doesn’t have support for APFS disk. In case you select this format, Time Machine will prompt you to reformat the drive.
When you are formatting disk on Mac, keep some things in mind. Never ever change the inbuilt format of a Mac drive.
Part 5. Tips for Formatting a Hard Drive on Mac:
Even though formatting doesn’t seem like a big deal, still it can be very helpful. So, it is important that you stay active and keep all things in mind. Here are some tips that might help you when you are about to format a Mac hard drive.
- Disk Utility in macOS Sierra and later chooses a compatible format for you automatically. But you should know the default format for your drive. It is advised not to change the default format of a Mac hard drive under any circumstances.
- You can check the format of a drive inside the Disk Utility Menu bar. Just click on the Get Info option and you’ll know the current format a drive is using to store files. Open the System information and select the storage. In the right side panel, you will see the respective format for each volume on your Mac.
- If you want to erase your disk before you install the latest High Sierra on your Mac for the first time, then opt out for the Mac OS Extended format. During the installation of OS, the macOS installer will automatically decide whether to use APFS or Mac OS Extended for the disk.
- You can also use the FAT32 format on Mac for USB drives if you wish to use it on both Mac and Windows. The FAT32 format can be read and written on both OS and hence it is the most versatile format for use.
- If you wish to transfer big files from Windows to Mac, you’ll still have an alternative, i.e. exFAT. This format doesn’t have a file limit but it can only be read on Mac OS X Snow Leopard or later.
So, before you pick out the format, look out for the advantages and the disadvantages of the formats to choose the optimal format for Mac. The Windows supported format is usually listed as MS-DOS format in the list of formats.
Wrapping It Up:
As you can see, now you know how to format hard drive/ USB flash drive/ internal drive/external drive on Mac. So, from now on whenever someone is in need, you can help them. And formatting doesn’t always finish without complications. So, if you lost some important files while formatting the drive, you can use Recoverit data recovery software for Mac to restore them in original condition. Recommend the software to your friends and family and let them know that there is a master tool for recovery for both Mac and Windows OS in the market.
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