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How to Format a WD External Hard Drive

Formatting a Western Digital (WD) external hard drive is similar to formatting any other external hard drive. Here’s a step-by-step guide based on the operating system you’re using:

For Windows:

  1. Connect your WD external hard drive to your computer.
  2. Press Windows + E to open the File Explorer.
  3. In the left pane, under “This PC” or “Computer”, locate and right-click on your WD external hard drive.
  4. Select Format... from the context menu.
  5. In the “Format” window:
    • For the File system, choose either NTFS (Windows default and better for larger drives) or FAT32 (more universally compatible but has a 4GB size limit per file).
    • Set the “Allocation unit size” to Default.
    • You can provide a “Volume label” if you wish.
    • Make sure “Quick Format” is checked to speed up the process. However, if you suspect issues with the drive, you can uncheck it for a full format (which will take longer).
  6. Click Start. A warning will pop up stating that formatting will erase all data on the drive. Make sure you’ve backed up any important data before proceeding.
  7. Click OK. Once the process is complete, click Close.

For macOS:

  1. Connect the WD external hard drive to your Mac.
  2. Open Disk Utility (you can find it using Spotlight with Cmd + Space and then typing “Disk Utility”).
  3. On the left side, select your WD external hard drive.
  4. Click on the Erase tab at the top.
  5. Provide a name for the drive.
  6. For the format, choose:
    • Mac OS Extended (Journaled) if you’re only going to use the drive with Macs.
    • ExFAT if you want to use it interchangeably between Macs and PCs without file size restrictions.
    • FAT32 for broader compatibility but with a 4GB file size restriction.
  7. Click Erase. After the process is completed, you can close Disk Utility.

Important Notes:

  • Formatting will erase all data on the hard drive. Make sure you back up any critical files before you start.
  • If you plan to use the external hard drive solely with a Mac, the “Mac OS Extended (Journaled)” format is recommended. If you plan to switch between Mac and Windows, “ExFAT” is recommended. If you want broad compatibility across many devices, including older ones, “FAT32” might be the best choice, but it comes with the 4GB file size limit.
  • Always safely eject the external hard drive after use.

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