Sometimes you may need to delete all the partitions on a USB drive and start over with a clean slate. This can be useful if your drive has become corrupted or cluttered with unwanted data and partitions. Deleting partitions completely erases all data, so make sure you have backups before proceeding.
There are a few ways to delete partitions on a USB drive, but using the command prompt is often the quickest and most straightforward method for Windows users. In this guide, we’ll walk through the steps to completely wipe and delete all partitions on a USB flash drive using the command prompt.
Things you’ll need
Before deleting partitions on your USB drive, make sure you have the following:
- The USB drive you want to format. Backup any important data first.
- Access to a Windows PC.
- Administrator privileges on the computer.
Step 1 – Open the Command Prompt
The first step is to open the Command Prompt app in Windows. Here’s how:
- Hit the Windows key on your keyboard or click the Windows icon in the bottom left corner.
- Type “cmd” and open the Command Prompt app.
- Right click on the Command Prompt app icon and choose “Run as Administrator”.
You’ll need admin privileges to use diskpart commands to format the USB drive.
Step 2 – Identify the USB Drive
Now we need to figure out which drive letter is assigned to the USB drive.
Type this command to get a list of all drives:
This will show your hard drives and removable drives. Look for your USB drive in the list and note the “Disk ###” number.
This lists the volumes on your computer. Look for which volume matches the size of your USB drive and corresponds to the disk number you noted earlier. Make note of the “Volume ###” and drive letter.
Step 3 – Select the USB Drive
With the drive letter and volume information, you can now select the USB drive you want to format:
select volume #
Replace # with the volume number you identified.
This selects the USB drive so all subsequent diskpart commands will target it.
Step 4 – Clean the Drive
Now let’s clean the drive. This will remove all existing partitions on the USB:
Type “clean” and hit enter to wipe all partitions and format the USB drive.
Step 5 – Create a New Partition
With no partitions left, you can create a new primary partition to use the entire space:
create partition primary
This creates a fresh primary partition on the USB flash drive.
Step 6 – Format the Partition
Almost done! Now just format the partition with the file system of your choice:
format fs=ntfs quick
This does a quick format as NTFS, but you can also use FAT32 if needed.
Step 7 – Assign a Drive Letter
The last step is to assign a drive letter so Windows recognizes the USB drive:
Replace G with whatever drive letter you want to use.
And that’s it! Your USB drive will now show up as a freshly formatted volume ready to use.
Using the Command Prompt’s diskpart utility is a quick and effective way to completely delete all partitions on a USB drive and start over. Just be absolutely sure to backup your data first!
Follow the steps to identify the correct USB drive, use the “clean” command to wipe partitions, create and format a new partition, and assign a drive letter. Your drive will be refreshed and empty for storing new files.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is my data permanently deleted when deleting partitions?
Yes, deleting partitions erases all data stored on those partitions. Make absolutely sure to back up any important files before deleting partitions.
Can I delete partitions on an external hard drive too?
Yes, this diskpart method works to delete partitions on any disk, including USB flash drives, SSDs, and external hard drives. Just be careful to identify the correct external drive.
Do I lose all my files if I accidentally delete the wrong volume?
Unfortunately, deleting a partition with the “clean” command permanently erases all data. Be very careful to select the proper volume representing the USB drive before typing “clean”.
– Use the Command Prompt and diskpart utility to delete USB partitions
– Identify the correct disk and volume representing the USB drive
– Use the “clean” command to wipe partitions
– Create and format a new partition
– Assign a drive letter
– Be absolutely sure to backup data first!
Other Formatting Options
A few other quick ways to format a USB drive include:
- Using Windows Explorer: Right click the drive, select “Format”, and click ok to confirm.
- Using Windows Disk Management: Right click the volume and select “Delete Volume”, then create a new one.
- Using third party tools like Rufus to overwrite partition data.
But the diskpart method via Command Prompt is usually the quickest and most direct if you just want to completely start over with a fresh drive.
Recovering Deleted Partition Data
If you accidentally deleted a partition and lost important files, there may still be ways to try recovering the data:
- Try data recovery software like Recuva or EaseUS Data Recovery Wizard. But don’t save anything new to the drive.
- Take the drive to a data recovery specialist for professional forensic file recovery.
- On an SSD, recovery options are limited due to garbage collection. A hard drive has better chances.
Prevention is key – be very careful when deleting disk partitions and always have backups of critical data!
Deleting all partitions on a USB drive completely erases and resets the drive. Follow the steps to use the Command Prompt’s powerful diskpart utility to cleanly wipe partitions, create a new one, and get your drive ready for saving files again after proper backups. Be very cautious when selecting volumes to avoid accidental data loss.