Brief: Wondering how to format a USB or SD Card in Ubuntu Linux? This screenshot tutorial teaches you exactly that along with a few hints about possible troubleshoot.
Formatting a removable media like USB disk or SD Card is a pretty simple task in Ubuntu Linux. No, I am not going to use terminal here although you can always use the command line in Linux. I am going to show you how to format USB in Ubuntu or other Linux distributions graphically.
Format USB disk in Ubuntu & other Linux distributions
I am using Ubuntu with GNOME desktop environment in this tutorial but this should be applicable to other Linux distributions and other desktop environments as well.
Plug in your USB or SD Card. Now go to the File manager. You should see your USB or SD Card here.
Right click on it and you should see the format option.
When you hit the format option, it will give you the option to name the device, choose filesystem.
When you have selected the appropriate options, hit Next button in the top right corner.
You’ll see a warning that all the data on the USB disk/SD Card will be erased. That’s obvious.
Just hit the format button in the top right corner.
Your USB disk will be formatted in a few seconds or a couple of minutes at the most.
Once it’s formatted, you’ll see that it has reappeared in the file manager with the new name you provided to it.
That’s it. That’s the standard way of formatting a USB drive in Ubuntu Linux.
Troubleshooting when you cannot format the USB disk in Ubuntu Linux
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. 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: Disks. 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)
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.
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
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 :
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:
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:
Nothing more needs to be done now. You will see couple of warnings and the format procedure will be commenced.
Voila! You are done.
There is another possible formatting related issue. I have written another tutorial to fix this ‘error formatting volume’ issue in Ubuntu.
Was the tutorial helpful to you and were you able to format USB key in Ubuntu? Have questions? Feel free to go to the comment section of the page.