Reformatting a FAT32 drive to HFS+ – Never trust a GUI

I bought an external drive for a relative to use with Time Machine. Of course it cam pre-formatted as FAT32 and while this would work it wouldn’t give the best performance, so I wanted to reformat it as HFS+.

I fired up Disk Utility, selected Journaled file system and click erase…and error.
A bit of googling suggested that selecting the option to zero the disk would resolve the problem. I tried this but I decided I wasn’t prepared to wait the 4 hours it was going to take to zero a 600GB drive – there had to be an easier way.

I decided to try the command line – I thought that this may give me a more meaningful error message if nothing else.

Anwyay, much to my surprise the command diskutil eraseDisk “Journaled HFS+” “Back Up” disk1 resulted in

Started erase on disk disk1
Creating partition map
Formatting disk1s2 as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) with name Back Up
[ + 0%..10%..20%..30%..40%..50%..60%..70%..80%..90%..100% ]
Finished erase on disk disk1
Finished partitioning on disk disk1

And it just worked, so hopefully Google will find this and it may help someone else.

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