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How to format exFAT

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How to format exFAT: Have you ever heard of exFAT or FAT64? It is a file system designed for USB sticks (and more generally for portable drives) which represents a valid alternative to the more well-known FAT32 and NTFS. As advantages compared to the file system, FAT32 offers the possibility to manage files larger than 4GB (more precisely up to 16EB), while it is preferred to NTFS for its full compatibility with Mac systems and with devices such as Smart TVs, multimedia decoders , video game consoles etc. both for reading and writing.

If you need to exchange large files between Windows PC, Mac and other devices such as those mentioned above, there is no more flexible and reliable file system that you can turn to, believe me. How do you say? Would you be interested in formatting your units in exFAT but you don’t know what is the correct procedure to follow? No problem. Take five minutes of free time, read the instructions I am about to offer you and in no time you will learn how to format exFAT on both Windows and macOS and Linux.

I remind you that formatting a drive involves the complete erasure of the information present in it, so before proceeding make sure that the key, the hard disk or the partition you are about to format in exFAT does not contain data that you still need. Without this necessary clarification, we just have to roll up our sleeves and get to work!

Format exFAT on Windows

If you use a Windows PC, you can format keys and disks in exFAT using the formatting functions included in the Microsoft operating system. The first step you need to take is to connect the drive to be formatted to the computer, after which you must open the File Explorer (the yellow folder icon located at the bottom left of the task bar) and select the Computer / This PC item from the bar left side. At this point, right click on the icon of the drive to be formatted and select the Format item from the menu that appears. In the window that opens, choose the exFAT item from the File system drop-down menu, type the name you want to assign to the volume in the Volume label field and click the Start button to start formatting the drive.

How to format exFAT

Windows uses fast format by default to handle USB sticks and disks, which means that it removes all data from the drive without checking its integrity. If you want the volume to be analyzed more accurately after formatting to identify any bad sectors, remove the check from the Quick format entry . But know that doing so will greatly increase the time required for formatting.

Alternative procedure

The drive you want to format in exFAT is not displayed in the Windows File Explorer? Don’t you want to format the whole drive but only a partition of the latter? No problem. By contacting the Disk Management utility included in Windows you can easily solve these problems and format your drives in exFAT without going through the File Explorer.

To access the Windows Disk Management utility, click the Start button (the flag icon located in the lower left corner of the screen), type partitions  in the menu that opens and select the Create and format partitions of the hard drive from the search results.

How to format exFAT

In the window that opens, right-click on the box relating to the partition to be formatted (if the drive consists of a single partition, select the box relating to the latter), select the item Format from the menu that appears and answer Yes to warning that appears on the screen.

Then set the exFAT option in the File System drop-down menu , type the name you want to assign to the partition or drive you are formatting in the Volume label field , choose whether or not to perform a quick format by selecting or deselecting the appropriate option and presses the OK button to complete the operation.

How to format exFAT

Format in exFAT safely

As I have been able to explain to you on numerous occasions, when you format a drive, the data inside it is not really erased. The unit (be it a hard disk, a USB stick or other) is simply prepared to receive new data. The old data are really only deleted when the memory blocks that hosted them are overwritten with new information (therefore with the new files that are copied to the unit). This means that by using data recovery software , if you act before the memory banks are occupied by new data, you can recover old data from formatted drives. To prevent this from happening, the drive must be cleaned up (also called wiping). By wiping, the unit is overwritten once or more so as to make the data that was previously present on it irretrievable.

One of the easiest ways to perform wiping on Windows is to rely on CCleaner : a very famous free software for deleting unnecessary files and optimizing the system which, perhaps not everyone knows, also includes a reclamation function inside drives.

To download CCleaner to your PC, connected to its official website and click on the CCleaner.com item found in the Free column . When the download is complete, open the executable ccsetupxx.exe and, in the window that opens, click on the Yes button . Then set the Italian language in the drop-down menu located at the top right and conclude the setup by clicking first on Install and then on Start CCleaner .

How to format exFAT

At this point, start CCleaner , went to the Tools tab of the program, select the item Reclamation drive from the left sidebar and put the check mark next to the icon of the stick or disk you want to reclaim .

Once this operation has also been done, set the Entire drive option   from the Reclamation drop-down menu  , choose the number of writes to be made on the drive via the Security drop-down menu (I recommend 3 ) and click on the Reclamation button  to start the drive reclamation . The operation could take quite some time.

How to format exFAT

After clearing the drive, format it normally in exFAT as explained above and no one will be able to recover the data that was present in it. If some steps are not clear to you or you want more information on how to download and use CCleaner , read the tutorial I dedicated to the program.

Note: Windows supports the exFAT file system starting with Vista SP1. If you are still using Windows XP (very bad! It is an obsolete and insecure operating system), to use the exFAT file system you need to download the KB955704 update which, however, I am sorry to tell you is no longer available on the Microsoft website.

Format exFAT on Mac

If you are using a Mac, you can format your removable drives exFAT using the Disk Utility application located in the Other folder of the Launchpad. Its interface is so intuitive that there would be no need to even explain how it works.

On the left, in fact, you will find a bar with the list of all the units connected to the computer while on the right there are all the functions to manage them. To format a drive or partition, all you have to do is select its name from the left sidebar, press the Initialize button located at the top and choose the ExFAT option from the Format drop-down menu . To increase the drive’s compatibility with Windows, set one diagram type Master Boot Record (MBR) .

How to format exFAT

Finally, if you wish, type a name to be assigned to the volume in the appropriate text field and click twice on the Initialize button to start the drive formatting process. The duration of the operation should not be excessively long.

Format in exFAT safely

If you want to clean up a drive to prevent someone from recovering the files that were present in it, after clicking on the Initialize button click on the Security Options button and set the overwriting in 1 or 3 steps using the adjustment bar that appears on the screen .

How to format exFAT

At this point, click on the OK button , proceed with formatting the drive in exFAT as explained above and you’re done.

Format exFAT on Linux

If you use Linux and more specifically Ubuntu, you can format a drive in exFAT by enabling support for this file system in the Terminal and acting from the Disks utility installed “standard” in the operating system.

To enable support for exFAT in the Terminal , start the latter, give the command sudo apt install exfat-fuse exfat-utils and type the password of your user account on Ubuntu (the one you use to access the system).

How to format exFAT

When the operation is complete, start the Ubuntu Disks utility by looking for it in the Dash of the operating system (the button with the Ubuntu logo located in the left sidebar) and select the icon relating to the drive you want to format from the window that opens .

At this point, select the partition to be formatted, click on the icon of the two gears located at the bottom and select the Format partition item from the menu that appears. In the window that opens, select the Custom item from the Type drop-down menu , type exfat in the File System field and type the name you want to assign to the unit in the Name field .

How to format exFAT

Finally, choose whether to perform a quick format or a safe format of the drive by selecting the option Do not overwrite existing data or Overwrite existing data with zeros from the Delete drop-down menu , click the Format button twice in a row and you’re done.

The drive obtained after formatting should be recognized as an exFAT drive and should be accessible both from Ubuntu and from other devices / operating systems that support exFAT.