I have external hard drive which is 300GB. I set it to format to NTFS. Well there wasn't FAT32 in the list, though I know on Windows it asks me to set FAT32 because it has large capacity.

It started formating but I didn't get any window that shows progress. I just see the LED diode flashing all the time, meaning the disk works something.

I also tried to restart the PC but it asked me for my user password with a message that I should not restart at this time.

How can I know the progress of formatting my external hard drive on Ubuntu 16.04 ?

PS. should I close my PC forcefully?

  • 1
    Which tool are you using? Some tools will only show, that you have finished, when you have finished, but no really useful progress information. But it should not be too slow, try to wait for it to finish (for a few minutes). – sudodus Oct 7 '17 at 17:06
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    @sudodus I don't remember the tool. Its just right click on the drive icon in the task bar(Unity) and then I pressed format. But it took like 2 hours now, still blinking diode. – Vlad Oct 7 '17 at 17:08
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    @sudodus yes it is on USB 2, and yes I chose slow format, not a quick format. Its been a while since I formated it. I wanted it to be clean from garbage. – Vlad Oct 7 '17 at 17:14
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    Slow format on USB 2. Well, it is probably working like it should (and you are probably using Disks alias gnome-disks under the hood). I suggest that you are patient and wait (probably for some more hours) if possible. – sudodus Oct 7 '17 at 17:16
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    yes full format is very slow as it writes every block. a quick format just rewrites the file table – ravery Oct 7 '17 at 17:32

After a dialogue as comments, we can conclude

  • "I right clicked on the drive icon in the task bar(Unity) and then I pressed format."

  • Slow format on a USB 2 drive was selected for NTFS on 300 GB.

  • This will last for between 2 and 3 hours, and there is no feedback during the process, except signs that the computer and target drive are busy.

  • It was easy to see that the formatting was successful in the end.


I had a similar situation where I right clicked a previously created partition on an external drive to reformat it. Once it had started there was no window of any sort to show the progress of the formatting. My solution was to open the Disk Utility which can easily be installed if it is not already available.

Once I opened Disk Utility I was able to select the partition being formatted and view the progress bar together with an estimation of the time remaining.

Note: when looking for Disk Utility amongst your apps only enter the term Disk as that is what it shows up as.

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    For Disk Utility, to install - within CLI enter 'sudo apt-get install gnome-disk-utility'; to run from CLI enter command 'gnome-disks'; to run from GUI push 'Disks' icon – Alexey Antonenko Apr 10 '18 at 6:39
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    This should be the accepted answer. – Ivan Ivković Oct 27 '18 at 12:53

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