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How to format USB key for big files in Windows 7

If you can't copy files that are bigger than 2 or 4 GB, usually HD movies and such, on to your USB key, it's usually due to the file system the USB key is formatted to.

  Author: mat | Version: 7 | 27th April 2013 |  

Put the USB key into the USB port of your Windows 7 computer.

Important: Before you proceed, backup any data you have on the USB key drive to your computer or another USB drive as the Format literally removes all the data from the drive.


Click Windows Start button and enter compmgmt.msc into Search programs and files field and press Enter.


In the Computer Management windows, click Storage and Disk Management.


Find your USB key right-click the field next to it and choose Format...

Look for Removable like in my case Disk 3 to find the USB key drive. I also know my USB key has 16GB of storage so it has to be the one where it says 14.91GB (it's always less than it says on the key) You have to be careful here not to format the wrong drive as you will lose all the data of the drive you format.


You can do the same thing without the need of going through the steps 2 - 4 if you go to the Windows Explorer, right-click the USB drive you want to format and choose Format...


Now if you are 100% sure you want to format the drive, enter the Volume label (new name for the usb key, you can leave it as it is as well), for the File system choose NTFS, enable Perform a quick format option and click OK.

If you are other trouble with your USB key, like can't access the files you have stored or similar, than disable the Perform a quick format option.


Now is you last chance to backup the data.

Click OK if you are sure as it will remove all the files and documents you might have on the key.


Wait for formatting to finish.


And it's done.


You should now be able to copy all the big .mkv and other HD format movies to your USB key.

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NikMan, 28th Apr 2013, 11:38 PM
How did you know that I just needed that?

Can you also explain what means Unit allocation size? It's default size I think is 512KB.
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podtalje, 30th Apr 2013, 2:19 PM
Unit allocation refers to the size of sections on the hard drive. Size of section is the smallest amount of data that can be read from hard drive.

The hard drive is divided into sections so that it has a way to find information that you put on it. When you format the hard drive, an Allocation Table is built (similar to spread sheet) that keeps track of what data is in each section.

Lets say you have a file that is 1024 bytes and you save it to your hard drive. Your hard drive will find the first available section and store the file data there. Even though the file is only 1024 bytes it will consume the entire 4096 byte section (you cannot put two files into the same section). So essentually you waste 3072 bytes of space.

So the smaller the allocation size you use, the less space will go to waste.
But on the other hand your hard drive will run a little slower because file is usually stored in more than one section and in case of smaller allocations size you will need to read more sections to get the data.

I think 512KB is the most suitable for general usage of computer. I would only recommend larger size in case you plan storing a lot of big files (like movie files). In that case I would recommend 4K.
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