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How to format your SSD

Have you recently upgraded with a new SSD ? Or are you looking to sell or repurpose an old laptop ? Either way, you’ll definitely want to learn how to format an SSD. This article will walk you through the steps of formatting your SSD and help you understand why it’s important to do so.

When should I format my SSD?

  • If you recently purchased an SSD, you will likely need to format the drive so that it can be used with your operating system. When installing an operating system, there will be an option to select your new drive and format it.
  • If you plan to reuse an existing SSD, remember to format the drive before reinstalling the operating system. Note that wiping drive partitions will erase data, so be sure to back up the contents of your drive before continuing.
  • If you are looking to sell or give away your SSD, you should consider securely erasing the drive using the Kingston SSD Manager app or third-party utilities that support secure erase or NVMe formatting. Note that this will permanently delete all data present on the drive.

File system options

It is important to choose a file format that will be compatible with your operating system. The most commonly used file systems are:

  • FAT32: A common option due to its compatibility with Mac®, Windows® and Linux® operating systems, as well as gaming consoles and other devices with a USB port. However, the main drawback is that it offers no security and limits files to 4 GB.
  • exFAT: A common option that removes the 4 GB file size limit and is compatible with most Windows and Mac operating systems. However, to ensure proper reading and writing to a drive with an exFAT file system, you may need to install a newer version of the operating system.
  • NTFS: a format used by default when installing Microsoft Windows. It supports a much larger file size, but is read-only on macOS® X (unless you install a third-party NTFS read/write utility).
  • APFS: the native solution for Mac users from MacOS 10.13. Choose this option only if you intend to use the player exclusively on macOS. Windows will not be able to detect this file system without the help of a third-party utility.
  • Ext4 (fourth extended file system): This is a journaling file system that Linux uses by default and was developed as a successor to ext3.

Preparing your SSD for formatting

  • First of all, back up your data! Whether on an external drive or in the cloud, make sure all important data is backed up before formatting the drive. Once the drive is reformatted, it is almost impossible to recover data.
  • Make sure TRIM is enabled on a compatible operating system to maintain SSD performance.
  • To completely erase all previous contents from the drive, securely erase or perform an NVMe format on the device.

How to format in Windows

In Windows, formatting is usually done from the Drive Management tool or File Explorer. You can access both options by right-clicking the Windows Start button. Right-click the partition you want to format, then select “Format.” Select your file system and allocation unit size. Select “Quick Format”. You can find more details in our guide on the process of formatting USB drives , which is essentially the same as SSDs.

How to format on a Mac

The easiest way to format an SSD on a Mac is to use Disk Utility, which can be searched in Finder. Select your SSD from the list on the left and click “Erase”. Type a “Name” for the drive, then click “Format” (file system).

Select “Clear”. If you are formatting an SSD for a Time Machine backup, you will need to choose MacOS Extended or APFS as your file system. You can find more details in our guide on the process of formatting USB drives , which is essentially the same as SSDs. Learn more about disk formats for Time Machine .

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