How to Clean a USB Flash Drive

by Jeff Grundy

USB flash drives are great for storing private data or transferring files between computers not on a network. With a USB flash drive, you add or write files to the storage device as needed up to its capacity limit. However, once the USB flash drive is full, you must remove some or all of the files before adding others. Formatting, or cleaning, your USB drive frees up space for new files on the device. An additional benefit of formatting a USB drive is that it makes it much harder for others to recover or view data removed from the drive.

Manually Delete Files

1

Connect the USB flash drive to an open USB port on the computer. Wait for Windows to recognize the flash drive and configure it as an external storage device.

2

Click the Windows orb and then "Computer." Double-click the drive letter for the USB flash drive in Windows Explorer to open the device and view its contents.

3

Click and highlight files to remove from the USB flash drive. Press the "Delete" key on the keyboard. Alternatively, right-click the files to remove and click "Delete" on the pop-up menu. When prompted to confirm the deletion of the files, click the "OK" button.

Format the Drive

1

Connect the USB flash drive to the computer. Wait for Windows to detect and configure the drive on your computer.

2

Click the Windows orb and then "Computer." Right-click the drive letter for the USB flash drive in Windows Explorer and click "Format" on the pop-up menu.

3

Enter a descriptive name for the volume on the USB flash drive in the "Volume label" text box. Remove the check mark from the "Quick Format" option and click the "Start" button. Click "OK" when prompted to confirm the format. Wait for Windows to format the USB flash drive. Depending on the size of the drive, it could take several minutes for the process to finish.

Tip

  • check Disabling the "Quick Format" option does increase the time to format the USB flash drive. However, the format is much more secure and makes it less likely for someone to be able to retrieve files from the device.

About the Author

Jeff Grundy has been writing computer-related articles and tutorials since 1995. Since that time, Grundy has written many guides to using various applications that are published on numerous how-to and tutorial sites. Born and raised in South Georgia, Grundy holds a Master of Science degree in mathematics from the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images