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How you format your USB drive impacts the speed of your Rekordbox export, and if your drive is recognized by DJ controllers and CDJs like the CDJ 3000.
So, choosing the right settings is important for convenience and compatibility.
In this article we will dive into the correct settings, and explain how to format your USB drive on Windows and Mac the right way.

Before we start there are some things you need to know about formatting, like what is supported and what is not.  There are many different options to choose from, some work and some won't.  Below is a table of the different format options, and details of what is supported by Rekordbox and what is not.

Fat Also known as FAT16 is an acronym for File Allocation Table 16 bit. I disregard FAT because it is a old format. Also, all modern Windows & Mac computers support FAT32 nowadays.  Don’t use it.
FAT32 FAT32 is the follow up of FAT16.  FAT32 is supported on Mac OS and Windows, but is limited to 32GB.  You can get tools that “force” formatting above 32GB, however, since it does not conform to the FAT32 industry standard, Pioneer does not support it. It might work at first glance, but it will lead strange behaviour later in your DJ set. You should be ok if you don’t format your drive above 32GB.  Because of the broad support this is the recommended format.
HFS+ Apple’s Hierarchical File System is an alternative to FAT32 (also known as “OS X extended” in Apple’s Disk Utility) and allows you a bigger storage than 32GB.  You can can only format and read a USB drive with HFS+ on a Mac, not Windows.  HFS+ however is notorious for getting corrupt after a while.
NTFS Not supported.
exFAT Not supported.
APFS Not supported.

Supported standards have been replaced by newer more reliable ones with less (storage) limitations.  FAT32 is replaced by NTFS in 1993, HFS+ is replaced by APFS in 2017.  We can only guess as to why Pioneer choose to support these older standards instead of the newer standards, more than likely something to do with licensing issues.

The Pioneer CDJ machines support three types of file system formats:
• Microsoft FAT
• Microsoft FAT32
• Apple HFS+

Formatting USB drive for Rekordbox on Mac

  • Make sure Rekordbox is closed!
  • Insert the USB drive.
  • Start “Disk Utility” by pressing Command + Spacebar and type “disk”, select the first item in the list or press Enter.

  • Select the USB drive in the drive list on the left. Make sure you select the drive, not the partition below (otherwise you will miss vital setting later).

  • Click on “Erase” at the top of the screen.

  • The Erase window will appear.

  • Choose a name for you dive in Name.
  • Format: select “OS X Extended Journaled” for HFS+ or “MS DOS FAT” If you choose FAT, you only can use 32GB of your drive if your drive is larger than 32 GB.
  • Scheme: select “Master Boot Record” IMPORTANT!! (you will miss this option if you selected the partition instead of the drive in the previous step).
  • Now click on the “Erase” button below the formatting options.

  • Wait a few seconds, your drive is now being formatted.
  • Click “Done” and close the Disk Utility.
  • You drive is now ready to use in Rekordbox.

Formatting USB drive for Rekordbox on Windows

We can’t format drives larger than 32GB with the Windows built-in tools, so we need third party software called “Fat32 Format” also known as "guiformat".  We can also format smaller drives with Fat32 Format, and this is the method we are going to use here.

You can download Fat32 Format here, or by visiting the developers website.

  • Make sure Rekordbox is closed
  • Insert your USB drive
  • Close all Explorer windows, otherwise you won't be able to format the drive
  • Start Fat32 Format

  • Select the drive letter of your USB drive. NEVER choose C:\
  • Select allocation size: 4096
  • choose a name for your USB drive in “Volume label”
  • Click Start

  • Select OK.
  • Your drive is being formatted, this takes a few seconds.

  • Your drive is now finished formatting.
  • select Close.

You will now be able to export or sync your Rekordbox library to your USB.  If you are unsure about how to export or sync, check out our tutorial on how to export and sync your library here.

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