USB hard drives are something of a modern miracle for a lot of reasons, the most commonly used of which is their ability to carry large amounts of data in a small, portable shell. These tiny devices are built to handle a lot, and they have the ability to be formatted to work with just about any filing system.
What that means is that certain operating systems aren’t fully compatible with each other because they use different ways of generating and saving files. In most cases, the systems are so different that a device formatted to work with one filing system will not be able to work with a system that uses a different filing system.
The question then becomes whether or not it is possible to reformat a USB drive to work with a different filing system after an initial filing system has been loaded into it.
The Versatility of USB Drives
It should be fairly obvious that USB drives are inherently reusable in their own system. The devices wouldn’t be of much use if they worked like a CD-R, which can have data written onto it just once.
There are newer rewritable compact discs, but that technology quickly got outpaced by digital data storage, and USB drives fall directly in that category. Since data can be written, erased, and rewritten to these devices, they are completely reusable.
That’s not to say that these devices aren’t imperious to degradation, but they should last for more than enough time to satisfy the needs of the user.
The great thing about USB flash drives is that they can also be used as a bootable source, meaning entire operating systems can be loaded onto them and moved from one computer system to another. This basically turns the USB drive into a full system hard drive, which can affect the filing type inside the drive.
For instance, a user might decide to load a copy of Linux onto the a flash drive that was previously used with a Windows system. In order to load the new operating system, the filing system of the USB drive has to change. But how do you change it back to a system that will be compatible with Windows?
Reformatting USB Drives
There is a relatively easy way to reformat a USB drive that has lost its native Windows formatting. This method can technically be used to reformat the drive with any filing system, but the one that Windows uses is called NTFS. To return this format to the drive, it must be inserted into a computer with the Windows operating system.
By searching for Device Management, users can access the Disk Drives utility, which details the connected drives. Double-clicking the USB drive in question will open a Properties box, then select the Policies tab.
Change the default “Optimize for quick removal” option to the “Optimize for performance” option. Select OK, then open Computer, right-click the USB drive, and click Format. The Format box will open, then select “NTFS” in the File System field. Start the formatting and wait until it is complete.
Using this method or others similar to it, there is no reason your USB drive shouldn’t last for many, many uses through multiple file systems.