Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Clearing partitions on a USB stick using Windows 7

I've been trying to access the entire size of an 8GB USB stick.  At one point I must have created multiple partitions on the USB stick when using it with Linux machines.  I didn't know that Windows can only access the first partition on a stick.  The primary partition I had created was rather small, about 250MB.  I wanted to use my USB stick to copy a file that was several GB so this amount of space wasn't going to work.  I looked and looked for answers and finally found out a way to do it without installing 3rd party software.

WARNING: These steps will delete the entire contents of the USB stick!

Open a command line and run the following:
      (accept the request for privileges)
 DISKPART> list disk
      (determine which disk is your USB stick, for me it was Disk 1)
 DISKPART> select Disk 1
 DISKPART> clean
 DISKPART> create partition primary

This cleared the disk and gave me one large partition that can now be formatted.  Instead of trying to partition it from diskpart, I decided to just use the Disk Management gui using these steps:
  1. Start -> Run : diskmgmt.msc
  2. Right click on the usb disk in the gui and select Format
  3. Select the file system you want to use, I used FAT32 so it would also work in Linux
  4. Press OK
I now have a working USB stick that has all disk space available and no partitions hidden from Windows.

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