Although external hard drives are usually formatted by the manufacturer, the installed file system might not be compatible with your device. You must format the hard drive, and the tool to use will depend your computer's operating system.
N.B. Before formatting the hard disk, it is advisable to make a back-up copy of the information contained therein, since the formatting will delete all of the data.
How to format an external hard drive in Windows?
- Press the Windows + X keys, and then select Disk Management.
- In the disk manager window, right-click on the external hard drive and select Format.
- In the window that opens, enter a name for your disk and choose the file system with which you will format it.
- Note that NTFS is compatible with Windows only; exFAT is compatible with Windows and Mac.
- After accepting, formatting will begin. The time it takes will depend on the size of the disk.
How to format an external hard drive on Mac?
- Connect the external hard drive to a USB port on your Mac. Next, open the Disk Utility tool, which is located in the Applications > Utilities. In Disk Utility, select your external hard drive and click the Delete tab.
- Display the menu to the right of Format, and choose the file system with which you will format the disk.
- Enter a name for your unit in the Name field, and click Delete to start formatting.
How to format an external hard drive in Linux?
- Open the Terminal, and run sudo apt-get install gparted ntfsprogs to install the GParted utility.
- Next, connect the external hard drive to a USB port on your device.
- On your desktop, right-click on the disk icon and select Volume Dismount.
- Then, go to Dash, type gparted and click on GParted partition editor.
- In the window that opens, right-click on the external hard drive and select Format.
- Next, choose the file system with which you will format the disk.
- Note that NTFS is only compatible with Windows; and ext3 is only compatible with Linux-based systems.
- Instead, FAT32 can be used with any operating system. Finally, click on Apply to start formatting.