In Windows there is a straightforward "Format" option in a flash drive's right-click pop-up menu. Where's that in Ubuntu?
You can use Disks it's installed by default and easy to use.
- 1st: Click on the Dash icon
- 2nd: Search for "Disks"
- 3rd: Click on Disks
The application will shows up:
- 1st: Choose the USB flash drive
- 2nd: Click on the "gear" icon and choose "Format"
This little window will appear, just choose the option you want and click on Format...:
In Ubuntu there are many methods by which you can format your pen drive.
1 With the Disks utility
This is the simplest way.
2 With GParted
You can install it
from Ubuntu Software Center or
on the command-line:
sudo apt install gparted
3 On the command line
To show the USB drive among all storage partitions and volumes on your computer use:
You can also use:
Suppose it may be
/dev/sdy1. Unmount it with:
sudo umount /dev/sdy1
To format drive with the FAT32 file system format:
sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdy1
To set a file system label for your pen drive in the process:
sudo mkfs.vfat -n 'name_for_your_pendrive' /dev/sdy1
The Command-Line Way
In case you can't get your device formatted from the GUI, try this way.
Open the Terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T)
List your block storage devices by issuing the command
Then identify your pen drive by it's SIZE. In my case its
Erase everything in the pen drive (This step is Optional):
sudo dd status=progress if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=4k && sync
/dev/sdbwith your corresponding device.
Type very carefully this name or your may end up erasing one of your other disks. This will take some time. (option status=progress is not mandatory but provide you some feedback)
It will pretend to be stuck. Just be patient.
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdb bs=4k && sync dd: error writing '/dev/sdb': No space left on device 1984257+0 records in 1984256+0 records out 8127512576 bytes (8.1 GB) copied, 1236.37 s, 6.6 MB/s
Make a new partition table in the device:
sudo fdisk /dev/sdb
Then press letter
oto create a new empty DOS partition table.
Make a new partition:
nto add a new partition. You will be prompted for the size of the partition. Making a primary partition when prompted, if you are not sure.
Then press letter
wto write table to disk and exit.
Format your new partition.
- See your new partition label with the command
In my case it is
/dev/sdb1. Once again pay attention to this name as there will not be any protection to prevent you to erase an other disk.
Issue the command below to format the new volume:
sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1
/dev/sdb1with your corresponding device.
Eject the device:
sudo eject /dev/sdb
- See your new partition label with the command
Run the below commands to format the usb to fat32 filesystem from terminal,
sudo su fdisk -l
(this helps to discover your pendrive /dev/sdxx)
then format your device to FAT32
mkdosfs -F 32 -I /dev/sdxx
Where "xx" is from the command
fdisk -l which denotes your usb drive's last letters.
Here are some instruction :
- Plug your flash drive into an empty USB port and back up any data on the drive. Open the main menu, move your cursor over "Accessories" and then click on "Terminal." At the terminal prompt, type
sudo apt-get install gpartedand press Enter.
- Enter your Ubuntu administrator password when prompted and press Enter. This will download and install GParted, which is an open-source drive partitioning program
- Go to the Ubuntu main menu after the installation is complete, move your cursor over "System," select "Administration" and click "Partition Editor." Enter your administrator password when prompted and click "OK."
- Click on "GParted" in the toolbar. Hover over "Devices" and select your USB flash drive from the list (dev/sdb1, for example). Right-click on the device in the main GParted window and click "Unmount." It may take a few minutes for the device to be unmounted
- Right-click on the device again after it is unmounted and hover over "Format to." Select the desired file system type -- RiserFS, linux-swap, Ext 2, Ext 3, FAT16 or Fat32, for example -- and click "Apply" in the toolbar. Depending on the size of the flash drive, it will take three to four minutes for GParted to complete the process.
- Close GParted after the flash drive is formatted. To mount your USB flash drive, unplug it and then plug it back in. The drive is now ready to store data in the file format you selected.
sfdisk CLI non-interactive method
echo 'start=2048, type=83' | sudo sfdisk /dev/sdX sudo mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdX1
erases all data, and creates a single partition that takes up all USB with an ext4 filesystem.
X based on the output of:
sudo lsblk sudo fdisk -l
For more detailed description of
sfdisk see: https://superuser.com/questions/332252/creating-and-formating-a-partition-using-a-bash-script/1132834#1132834
It is also possible to do the same as above with:
printf 'o\nn\np\n1\n\n\nw\n' | sudo fdisk /dev/sdX
but this method is less maintainable than
sfdisk, which was designed for
Scripting fdisk, specially if you want to create more complex partition tables.
Restore a USB drive to a standard storage device
Install and use mkusb (mkusb-dus), which can format alias restore a USB drive to a standard storage device (with an MSDOS partition table and a partition with the FAT32 file system). These instructions are also relevant for other drives (memory cards, hard disk drives, HDD, solid state drives, SSD).
If you run standard Ubuntu, you may need an extra instruction to get the repository Universe. (Kubuntu, Lubuntu ... Xubuntu have the repository Universe activated automatically.)
sudo add-apt-repository universe # only for standard Ubuntu sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mkusb/ppa # and press Enter sudo apt-get update sudo apt-get install mkusb mkusb-nox usb-pack-efi
See these links with more detailed instructions,
mkusb wipes the first megabyte as a first step of restoring it
Sometimes some data are 'tricking' the software to think that the pendrive does not work, even when it is good, and it is enough to wipe the first megabyte to get rid of those data. You may 'look at' the drive with a tool, that does not recognize or understand correctly the structure of the boot system, for example if it was cloned from an iso file.
What to do if mkusb fails
There are many ways that a USB pendrive can fail. So it is worth trying different things. If mkusb fails, try according to this list,
- On some pendrives and on many memory cards there is a small mechanical switch for write protection, that can toggle between read/write and read-only. You might have set it read-only without intention.
- Reboot the computer and try again to restore or wipe the first megabyte with mkusb.
- Disconnect other USB devices. Sometimes USB devices can disturb the function for each other.
- Try other USB ports and another computer.
- Try another operating system (Windows, MacOS) in another computer.
- If you still cannot wipe the first megabyte of the drive, and the drive is read-only, it is probably 'gridlocked', and the next stage is that it will be completely 'bricked'.
There is a limit, when you have to accept that the pendrive is damaged beyond repair, at least with tools available to normal users like you and me. See this link
Here is a very simple way: In linux system: use fdisk to check which is your usb disk. then use fdisk sdx,usually is sdb, to do some operation on your usb disk.
press o enter press d enter to empty your disk.
then you can plug your usb drive to a windows operation system and do the normal format.
Startup Disk Creator, installed by default, to format my USB drives.
- Open up 'startup Disk Creator' by searching for it in the dash.
- Insert your flash drive, it will be detected automatically.
- Select it (in case you have more than one)
- Press 'Erase Disk'
See screenshot below:
I faced this problem especially after the installation of Ubuntu, my USB drive just became no longer usable. I could only use around 1 GB of my 16 GB USB drive. When I entered
lsblk command on the command line interface it only showed 1 GB part of the USB available but it did not show the rest 14.5 GB as an unavailable part. So I tried almost everything, I googled it, I looked on many Linux and Ubuntu helps sites and this StackExchange network as well. I could not figure out how to make my computer read my USB. Eventually, I created a partition on my USB by using GParted on Ubuntu. Open GParted and then GParted -> Devices -> /dev/sdb (14.56 GiB) in my case. I selected that and then go to Device -> Create Partition and then click on "Apply". After that, I unmounted and mounted back my USB. Then GParted -> Devices -> /dev/sdb on my case, and then Partition -> Format to -> fat32. I clicked on that and then click on the green tick symbol and then it will format. The similar command of that format in command line interface is I think
mkfs.fat -F 32 -v -l -n. That was my case. I hope it will help. Please, ask the questions that you don't understand and you will hopefully get an answer, even if I cannot answer the gurus here will hopefully help you. Thank you, everybody.
PS: I'm using Ubuntu 16.04 LTS.
Edit: this happened to me 2nd time. I did the refreshing format not through Gparted but Disks. Thanks.
protected by Community♦ Feb 4 '14 at 2:44
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