If you’re always running out of space in your USB drive, here are some ways to get extra storage space now. Read on to find out more.
In this article:
- Delete Unwanted Hidden Files
- Compress Files to Increase USB Storage Capacity
- Use File Archivers to Compress Your Files
- Reformat Your Drive Using Software
- Split Large Files into Smaller Sizes Before Transferring
- Convert File Systems in the Drive
- Format the Drive Entirely
- Reallocate Partitions in USB Flash Drive
- Empty the Trash on Host Computer
9 Ways to Get More Free Space on Your USB Drive
1. Delete Unwanted Hidden Files
Does your USB drive say it’s full, but you’re not exactly sure why? One possible culprit is the hidden files stored on it when you connect it to a computer.
This lack of storage space is especially frustrating because hidden files are, of course, unseen. Luckily there are simple ways to fix this.
Follow these steps to delete hidden files from your drive:
- Go to the Control Panel, then open Appearance and Personalization.
- Next, go to File Explorer > Options. On older operating systems, this would probably be Folder Options.
- Click on Show hidden files and folders.
- A pop-up should appear where you can uncheck the boxes that say “Hide extensions for known file types” and “Hide protected operating system files (Recommended).“
- Hidden files should now appear on the drive. You can start deleting anything you don’t need.
You can use a simple keyboard shortcut to show or hide hidden files. Just press “CMD + SHIFT + .”
If you are unsure of whether or not deleting a file will not negatively affect your drive, look up the file name online to figure out what its use is. On the other hand, if you are absolutely sure it is unneeded, then feel free to delete the file.
2. Compress Files to Increase USB Storage Capacity
Another way to increase USB drive storage space is by compressing the data. Compressed files are one or more files that have a lower file size than the original file size.
When you have compressed files, it becomes easier to transfer data. Downloading and uploading speeds of these kinds of files are also faster.
Here are the different steps for file compression based on operating systems:
- Go to the file or folder of your choice and right click. A drop-down menu should appear.
- Go to the “Send to” option and in the choices, choose “Compressed (zipped) folder.“
- Look for the file or folder of your choice on Finder. Select it.
- Right click on the file or folder and choose “Compress “filename”. The compressed file should appear right next to the file you wanted to compress.
For Linux and Ubuntu:
- Right click on the file or folder you want to compress.
- On the drop-down menu, click on “Compress.” A window should pop-up once you click it.
- Choose the file format you’d like to use. If you don’t know which file format is better, “.zip” would be the safest choice.
- Click on “Create.”
File Compression Definition: The process of converting single or multiple files into a zip file, which has a smaller file size.
3. Use File Archivers to Compress Your Files
File archivers are also a great way to compress your files. These are software that helps compress and decompress files.
- WinZip is the first file archiving software, and it’s still a good choice even today.
- WinRAR is the only archiving software capable of processing RAR file formats.
- 7-Zip is an excellent option for people looking for free file archiving software.
4. Reformat Your Drive Using Software
Reformatting a drive via a partition management software can also help you regain some space on your USB. Formatting using software also allows you to fix write-protected USB drives, which can’t be formatted without software.
Before purchasing the partition management software of your choice, read reviews first. Before making any decisions, you can also go for a trial version as well.
5. Split Large Files into Smaller Sizes Before Transferring
Sometimes, problems arise with a USB’s storage space during file transfer even if the drive has sufficient storage space. It can be annoying to have your transfer interrupted by error messages.
These error messages may say that you don’t have enough disk space to transfer the file. However, the issue is not the disk space, but rather the file size you are moving.
To fix this problem, resize the large file by splitting it into smaller sizes. You can also use file archiving software to do this.
6. Convert File Systems in the Drive
A file system dictates how files are read and organized in a drive. There are different file systems that can be used depending on one’s purpose.
However, to create storage space in the USB, what we will cover is how to convert the FAT32 file system to the more popular file system on Windows which is NTFS.
There are two ways to convert FAT32 to NTFS:
- Through the command prompt,
- Via a partition management software
Both methods are valid. However, for those who want a simpler method, using partition software might be better.
7. Format the Drive Entirely
You can also reboot a USB drive entirely to free up some space. However, this will erase all files in the drive. Before you format your drive, back up all files you can’t afford to lose.
There are multiple ways to format a drive to give you more storage space. However, we’ll be covering the simplest one, which is done via the “My Computer” or the “This PC” route.
- Search for “This PC” or “My Computer” in the search bar.
- Under “Devices and Drives” or “Devices with Removable Storage,” right click on the USB drive of your choice.
- Go to “Format” on the drop-down menu.
- A pop-up window should appear, giving you the option to choose a file system. Choose NTFS, then press “Start.”
- You will receive a warning about how the formatting will delete all files on the drive. If you are okay with this, press “Ok.”
Other options to format a drive are through command prompt, through a partition management software, and via Disk Management.
8. Reallocate Partitions in USB Flash Drive
Partitioning your USB can also help you get extra space when you need it.
Sometimes, partitions on the USB drive are the reason why you’re running out of storage space. If you want to reallocate space from one disk to another, you have three options: use partition management software, disk management, or diskpart.
Before using any of the three methods, be sure to back up your files first. Different partition management software have different methods of use. Check your software provider for the instructions.
Here’s how you can partition using the disk management and diskpart:
Reallocate via Disk Management:
- Search for Disk Management on the search bar or press the Windows button + X, then press K as a shortcut.
- Once there, right-click on the USB Drive of your choosing and select “Delete Volume…”
- A pop-up window should appear once you click it. If you’ve already backed up your files, then click “Yes.”
- Finally, right-click on the USB again and select “New Simple Volume…” this time. A Partition Wizard should guide you to completion, and you’ll be getting free storage space in no time.
Reallocate via diskpart:
- Search for diskpart, then launch the program by right-clicking and selecting the “Run as administrator” option.
- Type in “list disk,” press Enter, and look for the number associated with your USB drive of choice.
- Type “select disk (insert number of USB drive here).” It should look something like “select disk 3,” then, press Enter.
- Now that the drive is selected type clean and press Enter.
- Once the deletion of the data is complete, type “create partition primary” and press Enter. Once done, type “exit.”
9. Empty the Trash on Host Computer
Sometimes even when you delete files on your USB, it’s not completely removed. The system still leaves it on there just in case you accidentally deleted it. If you didn’t accidentally delete a file and want to get rid of it, you have to empty the trash bin on the host computer.
- Before plugging your USB to the computer, empty the bin first. In this way, the only files you’ll see are those that come from the USB drive.
- Delete the file/s from the USB.
- Empty the bin of the host computer.
Note, however, that there may still be fragments of data in the drive. The best step to get more storage space would still be to format the drive.
We hope this article has helped you find ways to eliminate the hassle of having an interrupted file transfer because of a full USB. Any of these ways can increase your USB storage capacity — all you have to do now is choose which works best for your needs and preferences.
What other ways of getting extra USB storage space have we missed? Let us know in the comments section below!
- A Step-by-Step Guide on How To Partition A Hard Drive On Windows and Mac
- How to Resolve Write Protect Errors on Your USB
- Why a USB Flash Drive Should Be One of Your Travel Essentials