When you buy a new hard drive, SSD or pen drive for storage, in many cases they come unformatted and the answer to the question is obvious, since without previously formatting it you will not be able to use it. However, there are cases in which these storage units are already formatted so, is it advisable to format the new hard disk, SSD or USB pen drive before starting to use it?
As a general rule, before you can use a new storage unit, you will necessarily have to format it in order to start using it, since they come without created volumes. However, depending on the brand and model and especially on external drives with USB connection , many times they come already in format and, in fact, with the PDF instruction manual or even the management and configuration software already preloaded in the memory. In which cases should you format your new drive before starting to use it?
Format the hard drive, SSD or pen drive, should you do it?
The first thing you should take into account as soon as you install or connect your new storage unit is what type of use you are going to give it. As a general rule, when a new storage unit is already factory-formatted, this is FAT32 since it is the most compatible of all, but it has a limitation and that is that it will not be able to hold files larger than 4 GB in size.
There is also the possibility that the unit comes with NTFS format , which eliminates this restriction of the FAT32 format but has the downside that it is only compatible with Windows operating systems, that is, you will not be able to use it on a Mac or PC with Linux in such a way native, you’ll have to install third-party tools for it to work.
For this reason, and even if your storage unit comes with the manual or its software already preloaded in its memory, we recommend that you always at least check what format it is in , and that you format it accordingly according to what suits you best. . In any case, if the hard drive or SSD comes unformatted then obviously you will have to format, create the volume and assign the drive letter you need.
What format is the best for you for your new unit?
As a general rule, if you use Windows operating system we will tell you not to complicate your life and use NTFS format, since it is the one with the best performance and the least limitations. Now, if in your home or work ecosystem you have Linux or Mac computers, either you install third-party tools to be able to work on them with NTFS format or you format your storage units in exFAT format, which is compatible with all three operating systems.
The exFAT format is, let’s say, a modern version of FAT32. It is specific for external drives (although you can use it on an internal disk perfectly) but it removes the file size limitations of FAT32, although it lacks the advanced security and encryption features that NTFS does have.