How to Format USB Flash Drive to FAT32 Linux

Flash drives are handy tools. They're small, portable, and store a lot of data. While they help transfer data between systems, you can also use them for creating live Linux installation media. Formatting your USB drive using Windows is typically the go-to method, but there may sometimes come instances when you need it done differently. For instance, when you want to do it in Linux.

an image that says ‘how to format usb in linux’ with a usb drive diagram

Format USB to FAT32 in Ubuntu easily and can be done using either the Linux terminal or some GUIs like GParted. We can even use third-party software if nothing works out to format USB stick.

Method 1: Format USB Flash Drive to FAT32 on Linux Using Terminal Command Line

Suitable for all levels, a little familiarity with the tool will help you format USB to FAT32 in the Linux terminal.

But first off, when using the Linux terminal command line, you must have four things:

  • A system using Linux
  • A USB drive
  • Access to the Linux terminal or command line
  • A user account with root/sudo privileges
Step 1. Find USB Drive.

Launch Terminal and run command "df." Find your USB in the list and the corresponding device.

find your usb in the list and the corresponding device

Note: In case you don't know the drive designation, temporarily unplug the USB drive. Then run the above command again. The device missing from the list is your USB drive.

Step 2. Unmount USB and Format USB Drive.

Unmount the USB drive. Run the command sudo umount /dev/sdb1

unmount the usb drive and run the command

After you dismount, use the preferred file system (replace sdb1 with the device's name). For formatting, a USB drive with FAT32 file system, use sudo mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1

Step 3. Confirm USB Drive Formatting.

Confirm the formatting process sudo fsck /dev/sdb1

confirm the formatting process

It is the fastest method

No need of an external application

Does not touch file directories, making it easier to recover them later on


Highly code dependent, thus a time-consuming process

Locating a USB drive is difficult

It has restrictions such as number of partitions and unit size

Method 2: Format USB Flash Drive to FAT32 on Linux Using Disks Application

You can also format a USB drive in Linux using its graphic user interface. For instance, Ubuntu systems have an inbuilt utility program called "Disks." To learn how to do this via the GUI, follow these steps:

Step 1. Connect the USB drive you want to format.

Locate the Disks Utility application on your system. Click on the Dash option on Ubuntu in the top-right corner.

Step 2. In the search option, type "Disks" on the Dash search.

When it appears, click to open the icon.

Note: Alternatively, Disk utility is also available in the application.

click to open disk application

Step 3. Disks Utility interface opens up.

Check the internal and external storage sources on the left panel. Now select the connected USB drive.

Step 4. On the right, click on your device to see its settings.
click on your device to see its settings

Step 5. After you have selected the file format and type of disk formatting, click "Format."

The process will take some time as Linux formats your USB drive.

select the file format and click format

Best for people more familiar with Windows and GUI system

Requires simple steps to select the drive

No additional software is required. It has all in-built


The process is slow

Data loss is possible

Risk of disk corruption

Method 3: Format USB Flash Drive to FAT32 on Linux Using Gparted

GParted is an essential tool for managing disk partitions. It can create new ones, edit existing ones (reorganize them), and delete any unnecessary ones from your system. Formatting your USB drive is quick and easy with GParted. You'll need to install the tool, but once you have it ready in no time, it will be able to create an occupiable disk that can store anything.

Step 1. To install GParted on your computer, search for "Gpart" in the software center of Ubuntu or Elementary OS.

Use command sudo apt install gparted.

Press y and enter Hit.

search for 'Gpart' in the software center of ubuntu or elementary os

Run GP with command sudo gparted.

The Gparted home screen loads up.

gparted home screen loads up

Step 2. Scroll down to the /dev/sdb option from the drop-down menu.

Look at the top of the GParted home screen.

scroll down to command from the drop-down menu

Right-click on the command '/dev/sdb1' partition before selecting 'Format to'. Choose the preferred file system from the list to continue.

choose the preferred file system from the list to continue

Step 3. Start the process.

Tap on the green checkmark button to apply all the operations.

tap on the green checkmark button to apply

Note:A pop-up with a warning for data deletion appears. Tap Apply.

tap apply on the pop up

The GParted formatting process can take some time, depending on the size and type of your USB drive.

Tap the Close button and exit the menu


The method is faster than with Disk application

Chances of data corruption is low

Recovery is easier


Most hardware-intensive method

The possibility of choosing the wrong file is high

It does not work for high-capacity hard drives

How to Recover Lost Data After Formatting USB to FAT32

Once you've formatted the USB to FAT32 in Linux, one of the easiest ways to recover lost data is using third-party software such as Recoverit.

Wondershare Recoverit is a powerful yet easy-to-use data recovery software that supports 500+ data loss scenarios, including formatting, accidental deletion, and more. With Recoverit, you can recover your lost files from all file systems, just make sure it's formatted before trying. It also has features like virus assessment, which will tell if any malware programs are running.


Wondershare Recoverit

Recover permanently deleted data easily

Recover over 1000 types of data types, like photos, videos, emails, files, audios, etc.

Recover data from numerous scenarios. Be it due to files being overwritten, a system crash, accidental formatting or virus attack, Recoverit is able to make a total recovery.

Recover from any storage device, such as Hard Drive, Desktop, USB Drive, SSD, SD card, recycle bin, etc.

Ensure 100% data safe and easy operations.

Here's how to recover data

Step 1. Connect the external device.

To get started, connect the external device to your computer. It may not be able to recognize or detect it at first, so make sure that everything is in working order before continuing.

Step 2. Choose the external device.

To recover files, select the device as the target location. Then tap on the 'Recover' button in the settings menu above. The device may have lost its partition, but you can still use Recoverit to bring back all your files.

choose the external device

Step 3. Scan the external device.

A full-scale scan on external storage media will be launched. While the scanning is progressing, you can pause or stop it anytime. It will take a few minutes for this process to complete.

scan the external device

Step 4. Preview and Recover.

When the scanning is done, you can Preview all of your files. To get them back, click "Recover" and save them to another location you want to secure.

preview the files and recover


There are a few different ways that you can format a USB drive on Linux, depending on your needs. The most common way is using the "Disks" utility program with Ubuntu systems. Alternatively, you can use the GParted tool to format your USB drive to the FAT32 file system. Finally, if you need to recover any lost data after formatting your USB drive, we recommend using Wondershare Recoverit.

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