Format a USB if it does not appear as a drive

Format a USB if it does not appear as a drive

Format a USB if it does not appear as a drive
Image via

It may be that when trying to format a USB memory with command prompt we run into a problem that, when connecting it to the computer, it does not appear within This Equipment in the file explorer. This may be because the pendrive that we want to format has a system incompatible with our operating system or because it is damaged and cannot be recognized.

In this case, to format a USB, we will be able to use another Windows 10 tool, the Disk Manager. To do this, we open the Win + X menu and select Disk Administrator. A window will automatically open in which we can see each of the partitions on our disk, as well as the storage units connected to the computer.

Therefore, all we have to do is click with the right mouse button on our USB drive and select the Format option. This will open the wizard to format the USB, where we can indicate the file system that we want to give it, the size of the allocation unit, the name of the unit and if we want a quick format to be carried out.

Format a USB if it is write protected

Another problem that we can find when formatting a USB in Windows 10 is that the device is write-protected and we cannot format it. In this case, what we have to do is remove this USB write protection.

On this occasion, we will be able to use a Windows tool again. We are referring to the Diskpart tool, although in this case, it is a command line based utility. Therefore, we connect the memory unit to the PC through the USB port and then we open a command prompt window and launch the diskpart command.

Next, we write list disk and press Enter. This will allow us to see a list of the units of the equipment. Among all of them, we must look at which one corresponds to our USB and what is the disk number with which it corresponds. Next, we write the command Select disk X , where X must be the disk number of our USB memory drive.

Once the unit of our pendrive has been selected, we launch the attributes disk command to see the information related to said unit, where we can also see if the device is indeed write-protected. In case this is the case, what we have to do to be able to format the USB is to remove said attribute using the attributes disk clear read only command.

If everything goes well, once the command is executed correctly, we will have our USB memory ready to be formatted. We can format a USB from the command line by executing create partition primary and then format fs = ntfs if we want to use that file system.

Which file format is ideal for my device

When we format a USB, hard disk or SD card, we can choose between different file systems, the most used in the Windows environment being NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT . If we are very clear about what each of them means, perhaps we are clear about the file system that we want to use on our USB memory, while, on the contrary, we may doubt which of them to choose when formatting a USB.


On the one hand, NFTS is the file system that Windows uses by default, being the most used for hard drives and SSD drives. So much so, that Microsoft’s operating system can only be installed on a disk or SSD with an NTFS file system.

On the other hand, the FAT, FAT32 and exFAT systems are the ones that are usually used in USB memory sticks and SD cards. However, it is important to know the characteristics of each file format before formatting a USB memory or pendrive. Know all the characteristics and differences between NTFS, FAT, FAT32 and extFAT from this same link to choose well which system to use when formatting any drive or disk.

Differences between file formats

These would be the main advantages of each file system in Windows:

NFTS: Has the largest capacity to work with files up to 16 TOO. Their volumes could reach 264 TB each. It allows the configuration of the access permissions to the files, it allows them to have long names and to be encrypted.

FAT32 : The most compatible file system: Windows, macOS, Linux and Android. It is used in other types of devices such as Smart TV. The only downside is that it does not support files larger than 4 GB.

exFAT : Removes the 4GB limitation for files. It allows reading and writing in macOS (NTFS only allows reading) and is compatible with the latest generation consoles.

It is really important to choose a suitable file system , thinking about the possibilities it offers. If we choose an exFAT system we ensure the use of the pendrive regardless of the operating system, while if we format in NFTS we will not be able to save anything if we connect the device to a computer with macOS. The same thing happens with the limitation of files, the situation is typical in which you format a pendrive to save your series or your favorite movies to watch them on your vacations and you find yourself with the problem that the movies that occupy more than 4 GB you cannot save them because the file system is NFTS.