By Ivy / Last update August 27, 2021

According to a Comparitech report, 68% of second-hand flash drives sold in the US and 67% in the UK still have data. Thus, it’s necessary to secure erase flash drive in Windows 10 or other operating system before selling, donating or disposal, etc.

Then, how to make it? See below to learn more and clean flash drive with given solutions per your needs.

How do I securely erase USB flash drive in Windows 10?

I would like to know if there is a way to securely erase USB flash drives without a chance to recover data from it once it has been erased. I don't know whether the same tools that are used for HDD's can be used on USB sticks, or whether a format will actually overwrite the existing (and deleted contents).

Is there a simple app that can perform this task? Freeware preferably.

When need to erase flash drive in Windows 10?

USB drives are a very popular storage device today, it’s portable, fast, easy to use. But like the hard drive, you may need to wipe a USB drive sometimes.

  • You need to delete all data on the flash drive and get all free space for reuse.
  • You need to remove sensitive and private data permanently.
  • You need to remove unknown virus or malware on USB flash drive.
  • You need to secure erase data from USB drive before selling, throwing it away or donating to others.

All in all, if you are in one of the above situation, to be safe, you need to erase flash drive in Windows 10. Please note that the erasing process will delete all data from the selected USB drive.

And so, you need to be sure you select the correct thumb drive and backup files you want to keep.

How to secure erase flash drive in WIndows 10 easily?

In this part, you will learn 4 useful methods to secure erase USB drive, namely using Format tool, format command line, Diskpart clean all, and free secure ease software - AOMEI Backupper Standard. Most users will choose the previous three methods, but it's not safe. To wipe a disk thoroughly, it's suggested to try the last method.

Method 1: Force format USB drive in Windows 10 using Format tool

Format tool is built-in all Windows system, such as, Windows 10, which allows you to format flash drive easily and quickly, just a few seconds. This tool will check the ‚ÄúQuick Format‚Ä̬†option by default, which is an option we often use, but it is not fully erase them, only leaving all the data invisible on the current device. Thus, to wipe a USB drive¬†thoroughly, you need to uncheck this option and perform full format.

Step 1. Connect the flash drive to your computer via USB port, and be sure it can be detected.

Step 2. Right-click the drive you want to format and select Format... option from the drop-down menu.

Step 3. Select NTFS or FAT32 File system and then uncheck Quick Format.

Format USB

Step 4. Then click Start to force format flash drive in Windows 10.  

Method 2: Perform Windows 10 secure erase USB drive via Format command line

Except for GUI-based format tool, Microsoft still offers you the format command line to clean flash drive, and you will use the /p parameter. It was released in Windows Vista and later inherited in Windows XP/7/8/10, which is used to specify the number of passes you want to execute.

At the beginning of Windows Vista, it just overwrite all the sectors with zeros, but since Windows 8, it will fill all the sectors with random numbers in addition to a single pass of zeros. For example, if you set the /p parameter as 2, it will firstly fill sectors with zeros, then overwrite every sector two more times and each time with a different random number.

Step 1. Type cmd in the search box, right-click it and select Run as administrator.

Step 2. Type format f: /fs: NTFS /p:2 and hit Enter. This command will format the F drive with the NTFS file system and write zeros to every sectors once and then fill them with different random number twice.

Zeror Format Hard Drive

Method 3: Clear flash drive in Windows 10 by DiskPart

Step 1. Run cmd as administrator. Then, type diskpart in the command prompt window and press Enter to open it.

Step 2. Type list disk and press Enter. Then, you will see all the available disk on your computer.

Step 3. Type select disk n and press Enter. Note disk n is the number of flash drive you want to clear.

Step 4. Type clean or clean all and press Enter.

Zero Fill Hard Drive DiskPart

Method 4: Secure erase flash drive in Windows 10 with freeware

Here you will use zero-fill utility AOMEI Backupper Standard to erase flash drive in Windows 10, it has a clear interface and user friendly design, so every users can operate it like a professional. It provides users with 4 disk wiping methods, namely fill sectors with zero, fill sectors with ransom data, DoD 52220.22-M, Gutman.

The free version only support writing zeros to hard drive or flash drive, it belongs to low level format and has less damage to disk. It will be good choice if you just want to secure erase data on it. But if you want to erase data more thoroughly, the other 3 methods will be better choices. To enjoy them, you need to upgrade the professional version at least. Then, let’s get started.

Step 1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Backupper Standard, go to Tools > Disk Wipe and click it.

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

Disk Wipe

Step 2. In the wiping type window, select Wipe disk to clean the entire flash drive and click Next.

Wipe Disk

Notes:

  • Selected partitions & unallocated space on the disk: This option is to delete the selected partition(s) or unallocated space.
  • Wipe disk: This option will delete all the partitions on the flash drive.

Step 3. Select the flash drive you want to wipe and click Next.

Select Flash Drive

Step 4. In the wiping method window, select Fill sectors with zero and click Start.

Fill Sectors with Zero

Notes:

  • If you have any further question, you could click the Help button at the left-bottom corner and learn more about Disk Wipe. Also, you can contact us at [email protected]¬†for help.
  • If you want to¬†perform bootable disk wipe or wipe hard drive from BIOS, it‚Äôs suggested to create bootable media in advance.

The way forward

To be safe, it’s a wise choice to secure erase flash drive in Windows 10 or other operating system before you sell it out or donate to others. This article provides users with 4 useful methods, and the last one is the most thorough way. It supports wiping disk with Zero, random data, or use DoD52220.22-M, Gutmann, the disk wiping time is up to 35 passes.

In addition, this software is a free backup software that can help you protect data continuously. With it, you can backup system, backup disk, backup file, create a schedule backup, etc and then restore them in case of computer failure or data loss.