Several reasons comes to the mind which lead to the formatting of a drive. Reasons maybe that one might want to sell out the Mac or may want to totally erase it so that nobody can access the date. Another reason might be that you are setting up an external drive for backups or maybe you want to copy something onto a drive to share with a PC or another Mac. Lucky enough, Disk Utility, built right into MacOS, can help. And it’s easy to use too.
Disk Utility is a go-to solution for just about any drive-related challenge or problems. Disk Utility enables us to check, repair, manipulate and back up your hard drives and removable disks like SD cards or USB flash drives.
Disk Utility is found in the Utilities folder within your applications folder, but if your Mac doesn’t start up correctly, it can also be accessed via the built-in recovery options by holding down Command+R as your Mac starts up to start in Recovery mode, and you can launch Disk Utility from the main menu that appears.
Just before we start, there are a few things you need to know, including the most important decision of all, which is the format to use.
There are good number of file formats to be used in formatting a disk, but the one that’s right for your circumstances depends very much on what you are going to be using the drive for.
Below are the various steps to format a drive on a Mac.
1. Erase and partition
Disk Utility allows us to configure our storage by erasing disks, partitioning them and setting up RAID arrays. To erase a particular disk or partition, select it in the left-hand pane and switch to the Erase tab.
Allocate the volume a name that is easy to find, such as ‘Data’, and pick a format. If the drive is used only with Macs, then the default macOS Extended option is best; the ‘Journaled’ option allows the drive to be properly arranged so it can be searched easily, but if there’s nothing on the drive that you want indexed, leave the option unselected.
You can always enable indexing at a later date using the Enable Journaling button at the top of the Disk Utility window. If you’re formatting an external drive that you want to plug into a Windows PC, we recommend choosing exFAT.
2. Disk security
The next step is the security Options: to configure how the drive will be erased: we can choose a more secure setting if there’s data on the drive that we intend to permanently erase.
Finally, click Erase and wait while the drive is erased.
3. Partition it
If you select a disk drive rather than a partition, you’ll also see a Partition tab appear. This enables you to divide a large-capacity disk into smaller subdivisions, which then behave as if they were separate drives.
Like formatting, partitioning wipes all existing data on your disk, so is best used when setting up a new hard drive for the first time.
4. Disk images
This is a replica of a selected disk’s contents, held in a single file. They can be handy for backing up entire partitions or removable disks like USB flash drives.
To back up an existing disk, choose it in the left-hand pane then select the New Image button. Choose a location and file name for the new image; for backing up a disk partition or entire disk, choose a different disk to save the image to.
Ensure that there is enough space in the targeted drive, then click Save and be patience enough to wait while the image is created. Once it’s done, it’ll appear in the left-hand pane underneath your drives for easy access. Click it, it can be verified to ensure that that the file is not corrupt.