How To Format A USB Drive In Ubuntu 14.04

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How to format USB and SD card in Ubuntu 14.04 and 14.10

This article was originally written for an earlier version of Ubuntu but you should be able to format USB drive in Ubuntu 14.04 following the same steps.

I never thought I could ever be troubled with formatting a simple SD Card or USB/Pen Drive until I came up with this problem in Ubuntu 12.10. I don’t really remember how I used to format a removable disk prior in earlier version but this time when I looked on the options given by right clicking on the mounted removable disk, I found none for formatting.

So I tried with the default disk utility of Ubuntu: Disk. But it failed and gave me the following error:

Error formatting disk – Error synchronizing after initial wipe: Timed out waiting for object (udisks-error-quark, 0)

Error Formatting The Disk

The above mentioned error is a known bug which has been unresolved for months and Disk is still being served as the default disk utility program (why?).

I had to go around and format the removable disk with the help of GParted. And thus I came up with this tutorial to help others know how to format a SD card or USB key in Ubuntu 14.04, 14.10.

Format USB in Ubuntu 14.04

Step 1:

Install GParted. It is a free and open source partition editor for Linux. You can install it in terminal (Ctrl+Alt+T):

sudo apt-get install gparted

Step 2:

Insert the SD Card or USB key. Now launch GParted. To do that go to Unity dash and search for GParted. It takes some time to search for all the disks present on the system. Have some patience. When it has recognized the drives, you will see a screen like below. By default it goes to the hard drive of your computer. To access the removable media, go to the top-right corner of the application and choose the removable media. You can see the size of the removable media to identify the right one :


Step 3:

Now you will see a screen like the one below. This shows the partition of removable disk. Before you go for formatting, unmount the disk by right clicking on the partition in the following manner:


Step 4:

Once you have it unmounted, right clicking on it will show you the Format To option. You can choose whatever type of file system you want on the disk. Once you have selected the drive to format , click on the Tick sign on the top to start the format:


Step 5:

Nothing more needs to be done now. You will see couple of warnings and the format procedure will be commenced.



Voila! You are done. Was the tutorial helpful to you and were you able to format USB key in Ubuntu? Have questions? Feel free to go to comment section of the page.

  • DaveDroid

    what if it doesn’t unmount?!

    • Abhishek Prakash

      You mean, you are not able to unmount it or there is no option for unnmount?

      • Guest

        Thanks! Mint15 Mate has a built-in ‘Disks’ tool to manage drives (the Gnome utilty, AFAIK) but it demonstrated the problem you state above. Your suggestion worked a treat. Odd bug to find in this new release of the OS, isn’t it?

        • Abhishek Prakash

          I noticed it with Ubuntu 12.10 and it continues with Ubuntu 13.04. So this bug has been there for sometime now and has not been fixed yet :(

  • Gabor Toth

    I know Gparted, I just can not believe we have to fire up an entire partition manager program to format a USB drive. Too complicated. Why is it not in the right click menu anymore?
    Any more simple GUI for it?

    • Abhishek Prakash

      I can understand. Even I was aghast at why there is no simple right click option for it. I’ll update the post when I find some better and easier process.

  • Gonzalo

    Sirvio gracias.. saludos desde Argentina!

    • Abhishek Prakash

      De nada amico!

  • David Oldham

    Thanks , was annoying me this for a long time worked a treat.

    • Abhishek Prakash

      you’re welcome.

  • grateful

    Thanks. I spent several hours formatting and reformatting various USBs trying to figure out what was going on.

    • Abhishek Prakash

      you are welcome.

  • RichGJ700

    Thanks, worked a treat!

    • Abhishek Prakash

      You are welcome

  • Simbad

    Thanks, finally I can re-use my usb key

    • Abhishek Prakash

      you are welcome

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  • spulipati

    Beautiful. It worked like charm.

    • Abhishek Prakash

      You are welcome

  • Andres B.

    Thanks, it works pertectly.

    • Abhishek Prakash

      You are welcome

  • Maciel

    On my case, No partition table, input, output error

  • Keith Harvey

    Thanks! Mint15 Mate has a built-in ‘Disks’ tool to manage drives (the
    popular Gnome utility) but it demonstrated the problem you state above with my 4Gb flash drive.
    Your suggestion worked a treat, though. Odd bug to find in this /new/ release of
    the OS, isn’t it?

    • Abhishek Prakash

      Same bug from Ubuntu 12.10 to Ubuntu 13.04 and probably will continue in 13.10 as well.

  • gurunatha prasad

    Can u Please Tell me How to format a pendrive which throws an error message Saying ” READ ONLY FILE SYSTEM”

    Please Help me with this….

    • Abhishek Prakash

      There could be two reasons: Either the disk is in Read Only mode or the disk is in FAT file format. Can you verify which one is it?

  • Sidd

    Awesome, it’s such a useful info and Tons of thanks to you for taking time to make those steps and make OUR life easy. Once again Thanks

    • Abhishek Prakash

      Thank you for taking time to appreciate my effort.

  • Hayet

    did not worked for me, i have an old 1 GB USB once i used it for booting…after that i found out it is somehow infected with virus i tired with everything i could, i tried in all operating system, and as many as software i could get to try, nothing helped.. i guess virus somehow managed to damange its hardware,

    The above process also showing error.. if you know any other process ,

    [email protected]
    plz mail me :)
    (i would prefer to try it in linux because as many time i tried to do with windows my pc gets infected with virus.. :/

  • Robert Münnich

    Your Help ist so easy and quick, i wonder why there is such a deconstructive error “Error formatting disk – Error synchronizing after initial wipe: Timed out waiting for object (udisks-error-quark, 0)”. Repairing this within an Ubuntu-Update woudl be nice (of course including other linux-distributions would be better)?

    anyway, thanks for your great solution!

  • s3v3nfa

    It doesnt work.. says the whole thing is unallocated and everything except for new and information is greyed out. Very frustrating

  • Tasos Gr

    Thanx man! It worked just fine…

  • tnks06

    thank you, this save my microSD card

    • Abhishek Prakash


  • Sirisha

    Works. Thank you.

  • f6

    After installing noobs for my raspberry pi, there was many partitions on my sd card, some of them in fat32, some in ext something. I had to format each one individually, but couldn’t bcse I had error messages and problems. Finally I put the sd card in my camera and went to menu->format sd card and it was done in a sec. Sometimes Ubuntu is really annoying for me, having to fight to do such simple things !

    • Abhishek Prakash

      perhaps one day Ubuntu will understand that small thing matters big

  • http://assFuckyou.haha Rachid

    wont work for me !:

  • Rugby

    Ace! Thanks so much

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  • Ramana Reddy

    well, format to option is not highlighted!!!

    • Abhishek Prakash

      Is it a USB or SD Card?

  • JS

    Perfect, thanks!

    • Abhishek Prakash


  • fikriarroisi

    Thanks, very clear explanation

  • Serhan Gül

    Great tutorial, works fine! Thank you.

  • Frédéric De Feyter

    Many thanks dude :-)