How to Check Storage Space on a Flash Drive

How to tell how big a flash drive is

What to Know

  • Go to File Explorer > This PC > Devices and drives to locate your inserted flash drive.
  • To check storage space, right-click on the flash drive and select Properties.
  • Capacity is the total space of the flash drive, and Free Space is the available space for more storage.

It's critical to know the exact storage space on a flash drive before you start moving files. The file, or batches of files, might not fit in the available storage space of the flash drive. This article shows you how to check storage space on a flash drive and how to free up space for your files in Windows 11 but the concepts should apply to all versions of Windows. 

What Is the Storage Capacity of a Flash Drive?

You should always check if your flash drive has enough space to hold every file you want to transfer. It's easy to know the storage capacity of a flash drive from File Explorer. 

  1. Plug the flash drive into a USB port. An autoplay notification can pop up on the right prompting you to take action on the flash drive. Ignore it and move to the next step.

    Flash drive prompt on Windows 11 highlighted
  2. Press Win + E to open File Explorer. You can also open File Explorer by clicking its folder icon on the Windows taskbar.

  3. The left sidebar lists the installation drive, folder shortcuts, network drives, secondary drives like an inserted flash drive, and options like This PC.

  4. Select This PC in the left sidebar.

    Windows File Explorer with This PC highlighted
  5. The USB flash drive icon is displayed on the right window under the Devices and drives section. The storage capacity of the flash drive is indicated below the icon.

    Flash drive under Devices and drives in File Explorer
  6. Right-click the USB flash drive icon and select Properties on the menu.

    Flash drive right-click menu with Properties highlighted
  7. Ensure the General tab of the Properties dialog is visible.

  8. The number of bytes next to Free space is the amount of free storage on your USB drive. The total size of the drive is next to Capacity. A pie chart displays the ratio of free space to used space.

    Flash drive capacity highlighted

    How Do I Free Up Space on a Flash Drive?

    Flash drives are inexpensive backup devices. But that doesn't mean you should hoard them with files you don't need. Here are a few quick ways to free up space on a flash drive and avoid the "There is not enough space on USB flash drive" message.

    Delete Files Manually

    Manually selecting the files and deleting them is the quickest route to free up extra space on your flash drive.

  9. Go to File Explorer > This PC > Devices and drives.

  10. Insert your flash drive into a free USB port.

  11. Double-click or select the flash drive to open it.

  12. From the File Explorer menu bar, select View > Show > Hidden items to reveal any hidden files and folders.

    Show any hidden items in File Explorer
  13. Select the files you want to delete and press the Delete key on your keyboard.

Format the Flash Drive

Format the flash drive only when you want to erase the entire content stored in the drive and set a file allocation system from scratch.

You can't undo this action. Make sure you don't need any of the files on the flash drive or you already have a copy of them elsewhere.

  1. Insert your flash drive into a free USB port.

  2. Go to File Explorer > This PC > Devices and drives.

  3. Right-click on the flash drive to open the context menu. Select Format.

    Flash drive context menu with Format highlighted
  4. Select Quick Format to erase the flash drive quickly. Leave that box unchecked if you want it to wipe the drive and also check for any bad sectors.

    Quick Format option highlighted in drive properties
  5. For a full format, choose between exFAT or NTFS. The exFAT file system is ideal for flash drives as its lightweight and is more compatible across operating systems than NTFS.

  6. Select Start to format the flash drive and remove all contents.

  • How much storage does a flash drive have?

    Flash drives aren’t a one-size-fits-all technology. You can find USB flash drives with capacities of less than 1 GB to more than 1 TB. How much data you want to store is the deciding factor when selecting a flash drive. A 1 GB flash drive will work fine for a few documents, but to back up all your files, you may need 500 GB or more.

  • What's the difference between flash storage and a hard drive?

    A hard drive is a data storage device used to expand a computer's memory. It has platters on which data is written. Unlike a hard drive or optical drive, a flash drive doesn't have moving parts. Also, unlike hard drives, flash drives aren't used for permanent or long-haul storage, and they don't need a power source.

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