Have you finally decided to upgrade your PC and have purchased an SSD to replace your old mechanical drive, or do you simply no longer need the old files stored on the SSD and are willing to do some cleaning? You need to understand how to format the SSD correctly, so you searched the internet and came across this article. Well! I inform you immediately that you have “landed” in the guide that is right for you. In fact, in the next lines of this article, I will explain in detail all the procedures that allow you to format SSD on Windows or macOS.
The procedure that allows you to format an SSD is the same as that which is generally used to format an external hard disk or the disk installed on the PC. On Windows, you can format in three main ways: using File Explorer, via Command Prompt, or using the Disk Management feature. On macOS instead, you can format the SSD via the Disk Utility tool or using the Terminal.
How to format SSD on Windows and macOS
Before starting and showing you the various procedures, it is essential to make a necessary premise. If you want to format an SSD that you have already used before, know that all the files stored inside it will be permanently deleted. So before proceeding with the formatting, I suggest you look at the files and folders saved on the SSD and possibly make a backup copy.
Also, before proceeding with the actual formatting, you will need to choose the type of file system to use. The latter is a critical choice since the compatibility of the SSD with various operating systems or devices depends on the file system.
If you don’t know the difference between the various Windows file systems and you don’t know anything about the macOS file systems, below, you will find all their main features in brief.
Windows file system
- FAT32: it is the oldest file system and the most used one, especially on external drives, since it guarantees a very high level of compatibility on the various devices on the market and operating systems. However, FAT32 cannot handle files larger than 4GB and does not support partitions larger than 32GB. So I advise you to use this type of file system only if you need to use the drive on multiple devices or operating systems.
- exFAT: is the evolution of FAT32, the limits imposed by the previous file system are removed, so it is possible to manage files larger than 4GB and format partitions larger than 32GB. ExFAT is also very compatible with various devices and operating systems, albeit fewer in number than FAT32.
- NTFS: This is the current Windows default file system. It has no limitation regarding the size of individual files and partitions. NTFS is quite stable and offers excellent performance. However, it has a much lower compatibility level than the file systems seen above. For example, on macOS or Linux, a drive formatted to NTFS will only allow the reading of files. So I recommend that you only use this file system if you plan to use the SSD on Windows operating systems or NTFS compatible devices.
macOS file system
- APFS: This is the default macOS file system. The performance offered by this file system is excellent. However, its compatibility level is abysmal. Windows cannot read APFS-formatted drives unless specific third-party drivers are installed. The same is true for other devices currently on the market. So I recommend that you only use APFS if you are planning to use the SSD on the Mac.
- Mac OS extended: this is the predecessor of APFS, and the speech made above is also valid. Extended Mac OS is 100% compatible only with macOS, while compatibility with other operating systems or external devices is next to nothing.
Types of Formatting
Last thing to explain before seeing the procedures that allow you to format SSD on Windows and macOS.
When getting started, you can choose two types of formatting: “Quick Format” or “Full Format.”
Quick format does not completely erase the files, but it frees up all disk space as well. Previously saved files will then be overwritten gradually. After formatting, it will be possible to recover deleted files (until they are completely overwritten) using specific third-party software. Full formatting completely erases files, so after formatting, you will never recover deleted files. Obviously, the complete formatting takes much longer. The latter changes a lot according to the size and type of SSD you want to format.
Format SSD on Windows
After this long but necessary introduction, we can move on to the practical part and see how to format the SSD on Windows. As mentioned at the beginning, you have three possibilities. In the next lines, you will find all the steps hinted at in detail.
File Explorer allows you to format any drive very quickly and easily. Here’s how:
- Connect the SSD to the PC;
- Open File Explorer;
- Click on “This PC” or “Computer” ;
- Locate the SSD icon and right-click on it;
- Click on the item “Format” ;
- Using the second drop-down menu, select the file system you want to use;
- In the field under the heading “Volume label,” type the name to be assigned to the disk;
- Make sure you check the “Quick Format” option (recommended);
- Click on “Start.”
To format the SSD or any other external or internal drive via Disk Management, the procedure is as follows:
- Press the WIN + R keys;
- Type in the Run window “dikmgmt.msc” and click on “OK” or press ENTER;
- At the bottom of the Disk Management window, locate the “bar” of the disk you want to format, then right-click on it;
- Click on the “Format” item;
- Select the file system you want to use, choose the name to assign to the disk, leave the checkmark under “Perform quick format,” then click on “Next,” and then on “Finish.”
If you want to format the disk using Command Prompt, the steps you need to take are as follows:
- Start the Prompt. To do so, type in the form at the bottom left “cmd” and press ENTER. Alternatively, press the WIN + R keys, type “cmd” and click on “OK” or press ENTER;
- In the Prompt window, type
diskpart, press ENTER and when prompted click on “YES” ;
- In the new diskpart window, type
list diskand press ENTER, to see the list of disks connected to the PC;
- Locate the SSD you want to format and note its number (present in the “Disk No.” column );
- Type the command
select disk [disc number](e.g., select disk 2) and press ENTER;
- Remove the current partition by typing the command
cleanand pressing ENTER;
- Create a new partition. To do so, type
create partition primary, then press ENTER;
- Format the disk by typing the command
format fs=[file system] quickand press ENTER (replace the word “file system” with the file system you want to use, e.g. “format fs = NTFS quick”);
- When formatting is complete, assign a new letter to the disk. To do so, type the command
assingand press ENTER;
exitand press ENTER to exit the diskpart.
Format SSD on macOS
On macOS, you can format the SSD using the Disk Management tool or via the Terminal. In the next chapters, you will find all the procedures explained in detail.
Formatting the SSD via Disk Management is extremely simple. Here’s how:
- Open the Launchpad (the rocket-shaped icon in the Dock bar), then open the “Other” folder and click on the “Disk Management” icon ;
- In the Disk Management window, using the left sidebar, select the disk you want to format;
- Click on the “Initialize” button at the top;
- Using the “Format” drop-down menu, select the file system you want to use;
- From the scheme menu, select the item “GUID Partition Map” if you use APFS or HFS + as file system, otherwise select the item “Boot record (MBR)” ;
- Type the name to assign to the disk;
- Click on “Security Options” and the number of overwrites to perform (the greater the number, the longer the time needed to perform the formatting);
- Click on “OK” and then on “Initialize.”
If you feel more comfortable with the Terminal and want to use it to format the disk, the procedure to follow is the following:
- Open the Launchpad (the rocket-shaped icon in the Dock bar), then open the “Other” folder and click on the “Terminal” icon ;
- Type the command in the Terminal window
diskutil list, then press ENTER;
- Write down the name of the disk you want to format (the name is in the “ IDENTIFIER” column );
At this point, you’re ready to format the disk. To do that, you would type the following command, followed by the ENTER button:
diskutil erasedisk [file system] [disc name] quick /dev/[identifier]. In this command line, there are three parameters to modify, [file system] must be modified with the name of the file system you want to use, [disk name] must be replaced with the name to be assigned to the disk, [identifier], must be changed with the name you displayed in the “IDENTIFIER” column, during the previous step. (eg “diskutil erasedisk APFS secondary disk quick / dev / disk2.”