How To Create USB Drive Compatible with Linux, Windows & Mac

How to format and create a USB drive or pen drive that is compatible with Windows 10, 8, 7 or Mac or Linux.

file system is a method and structure of data used by an operating system, called Windows, Linux or Mac OS, for reading media files such as disks, removable drives, etc.

Types of File Systems

It is vital that we are aware that each developer implements a series of file systems for their operating system, for example, we have the following:


  • FAT
  • FAT32
  • NTFS
  • exFAT


  • ext2
  • ext3
  • ext4
  • ReiserFS
  • Swap

Mac OS:

  • HFS +
  • MS-DOS (FAT)
  • exFAT
  • APFS (Present in the new edition of macOS High Sierra)

Each system manages its file system and in this way, USB drive with NTFS can only be recognized in Windows environments but not in Linux or macOS environments, even if it is accepted in macOS we can not make changes to it.

At this point, another question arises, what type of file system to use that is compatible with these three operating systems?

In technical terms, it has been recommended that the file system of the USB drives be FAT32 thanks to the fact that it is an old file system and that it has evolved to FAT32 at present, but there is a format that is much better regarding security, reliability, and compatibility: exFAT.

Let's see in detail what is and what covers each of these file systems.


This format is one of the most compatible, but due to its useful life, it has been in force since the 90s, it has a series of limitations that can affect the pace of updates we are experiencing today.
Being a format with so much active time is compatible with virtually any operating system.

As mentioned, it has its limitations such as the inability to host files larger than 4 GB or that partitions with this file system cannot have more than 8 TB capacity.


exFAT is in a way a more modern and dynamic FAT32 which was developed in 2006 and is present in most modern operating systems.

By default, all traditional operating systems, Windows, Linux or Mac OS are compatible with exFAT, and its use is highly recommended for external drives, such as USB devices or external drives, thanks to its simplicity and multiple features.

Now we will analyze a little more in detail the fields of action where these two file systems are compatible to know which is the best option to choose.

Device Support

This is the first fundamental field since if the USB device formatted with FAT23 or exFAT is not compatible with the device where it has to be connected it will be impossible for it to be recognized and to access its contents.

In this field, we can say that FAT32 has an advantage over exFAT because, being an old file system, it is compatible with all operating systems and devices such as game consoles, Smart TV, multimedia players and others.

ExFAT, although it is currently compatible with more than 95% of the devices on the market, can still find individual limitations in some Linux distros or Android devices.

In some Linux distros the exFAT file system will not be recognized immediately, so we must install the several utilities by executing the following line:

sudo apt-get install exfat-utils exfat-fuse

Then update the packages running the line:

sudo apt-get update

Reading & Writing Speed

Another of the pillars in a file system is the ability with which this can access the content and read or write it since this depends on optimal performance which is a highly required value today. Undoubtedly in this regard exFAT outperforms FAT32 to be a much more recent technology which is compatible with USB 3.0 which can have a transfer rate up to 5 Gbps.

In the previous graphic of flexense we can see the performance of exFAT on FAT32, and in the following link we will be able to look in detail multiple operations carried out by this software developer called Flexsense

Size of Supported Files

Undoubtedly on this field wins exFAT because, as we mentioned above, FAT32 only allows files with a maximum capacity of 4 GB in partitions that do not exceed 8 TB of storage while exFAT is virtually unlimited in this aspect to support 16ZB files.

How To Format a USB drive with exFAT

Starting from the detail that exFAT is the most practical and functional file system, unless we are not going to use files of more than 4 GB, this is the process of formatting the USB drives with exFAT.

It will first be necessary to install the exFAT tools by executing the following command, as we have mentioned before:

sudo apt-get install exfat-utils exfat-fuse

Later we run the fdisk -l line to list the active disks in the system.

There we will locate the USB drive which has the extension /dev/sd** (Replace the ** with the indicated number)
Once the USB disk is identified, we will execute the following syntax:

mkfs.exfat -n NOMBRE /dev/sd** (NOMBRE será la etiqueta asignada al disco)

As we understand, we have the freedom to select the best file system for our USB drives to have the best capacity and performance.

Similar Posts


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *