Can you Re-format Branded USB Memory Sticks

USB memory sticks are now an incredibly popular medium for storing and transporting data of all types and sizes. Typical files stored on a USB memory stick include personal and work documents, music tracks, photos, media files, backups, portable applications and pretty much anything you can digitize.

The available storage capacity on a typical USB memory stick now typically exceeds 1GB and its not uncommon for even promotional memory sticks to top 4GB. This is a huge amount of storage capacity, which is great, but unless you’re pretty methodical when you use it the memory stick will very quickly become a cluttered “dumping ground” for data. So much so that unless you start to organise your data into files and folders subsequently finding files you need can become a bit of a nightmare.

Of course you can delete unwanted files but this won’t deal with the root of the problem so sometimes it better to bite the bullet and completely erase all the data from the memory stick. Before you do this make sure you copy all of the files onto your PC – you’ll probably want to transfer some of these back onto the USB memory sticks once its been erased of all data and you’ve put in place some folders and a file structure.

The best way to erase all of the files on a USB memory stick (including any hidden files) is to format the stick. At the end of the format process it will be completely clean of all data and you’ll then be able to create folders and sub-folders to transfer your data back into in.

To format you USB Memory Stick just follow these simple steps:

Step 1 – Transfer any Data from the USB stick to your PC

Its important before you format your USB memory stick that you first copy the files from it onto a host PC. Formatting your USB memory stick completely erases the memory stick so if you want any of your data then its critical you copy it first. Once you’ve started the format process there is no way back so check any copy of the data is done before you start the process.

Step 2 – Formatting your USB Memory Stick on a PC

Click on the Windows “Start” icon in the bottom left hand corner of your PC and then click on “My Computer” (or “Computer” in Vista or Windows 7). Once you’ve done this your PC will perform a quick scan and show you all of the drives installed or connected to your PC. You need to identify the drive that has a "Removable Disk" icon. – click on it to be sure its your USB Memory Stick. Once you are sure its your memory stick then right-click on the “Removable Disk” label. From here you will see a small drop down menu that includes the option to “Format” – click this.

At this point a dialog box will open giving you a couple of options; Leave the "Quick Format" option unchecked because this will make sure absolutely everything is deleted and deleted without errors. Click the "Start" button on the dialog and wait for your USB memory stick to be fully formatted.

Step 3 – Re-load your files

Once your USB Memory Stick has been formatted you’ll have a blank canvas to work with. Its recommended that you then create folders and sub-folders to copy your saved data back into to and that you then get into the habit of saving your data in a structured and organised way.
If you’re a Mac user you can still format your USB Memory Stick as follows:

Load up the "Disk Utility" program. You’ll find this in the “Utilities folder” which you access via the “Applications folder”. Your USB memory stick should be in the list showing a white drive icon. Click that icon and select the "Erase" tab on the main window to start the erase (format) process.

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