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I want to connect my external 2TB USB HDD that has 4 partitions, to be treated as a set of removable drives on Windows.

This is because I do not want Windows to create "System Volume Information" and "$Recycler" ans stuff on it ( these are not created for removable drives right? )

I just want Windows to use the drive as simple plain old storage without cluttering it up with its internal stuff and metedata - and as far as I know, removable drive is the way to go.

So I have these questions:

  1. Is marking the external USB HDD as removable drive what I am looking for?
  2. what's the difference between it being marked as external HDD vs removable drive
  3. how do I make this happen
  4. how do I detect what type it is, currently and after the change

  5. Also - I would like to format the drive with a filesystem that would be efficient as well as compatible with Linux and Windows. What would be such an efficient filesystem? extFAT? I don't think FAT32 would be good for a 2TB storage? ( there would be too much wastage? )

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

To avoid "System Volume Information" and "$Recycler", do the following for the external disk drive:

  1. Right-click the Recycle Bin, select Properties, click the disk, check "Do not move files to the Recycle Bin", then OK.
  2. Go to Control Panel -> System, click System protection, uncheck the disk, click OK.

If the above directories were already created, you might need after this to take ownership of them in order to delete.

The best common format is probably NTFS, as the majority of current Linux distributions supports the NTFS file system out of the box, and it doesn't suffer from the limitations of FAT32.

In case of performance problems on Linux, give a try to Paragon NTFS & HFS filesystem drivers for Linux.

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EXCELLENT tips! Is the Paragon drivers liable to corrupt the FS ? Have you been using these personally for some time? – PoorLuzer Oct 9 '10 at 23:00
Never tried them, but I heard good things about them. However, given that an external drive is slower to start with, no reason to use them unless performance is really unacceptable. – harrymc Oct 10 '10 at 6:28

@harrymc answered everything correctly (+1 to him) except this part:

I would like to format the drive with a filesystem that would be efficient as well as compatible with Linux and Windows. What would be such an efficient filesystem? extFAT? I don't think FAT32 would be good for a 2TB storage? ( there would be too much wastage? )

If you want to support Linux boxes, the only really good filesystem that works between the systems is FAT32. Linux can read and write to NTFS, but the Linux NTFS driver runs as a FUSE module, and performance is comparatively poor. exFAT would be the best option, because FAT32 doesn't allow filesizes greater than 4 GB, but AFAIK Linux and friends do not know how to read it (and neither do versions of Windows earlier than Windows 7)

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I have also added the missing part, although I tend towards NTFS. – harrymc Oct 9 '10 at 18:12
Billy, thanks for the answer. I do not trust the FAT32 too much - have lost a number of files when the USB Cable came off but the FS still registered that the files had been "written", only to be "" on reboot. I like the journaling features of NTFS and would have liked something similar but compatible between OSes. – PoorLuzer Oct 9 '10 at 23:03
@PoorLuzer: Generally I agree. I just wish there was a better performing driver for Linux. – Billy ONeal Oct 9 '10 at 23:33
Have you tried the Paragon drivers? – PoorLuzer Oct 9 '10 at 23:37
There is a free Express version of Paragon (registration required). I haven't been able to find the difference between it and the paid version. – harrymc Oct 10 '10 at 6:30


  • Start
  • Right click on Computer » Manage » Device Manager
  • Find your USB HDD in Disk drivers on the right side
  • Right click on it, then Properties » Policies panel
  • Make sure that Quick removal (default) is selected.
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I was about to give up on this. I have an external HDD that connects to the computer by USB. Every time I try to disconnect the thing, I'm told the device is busy. I end up unplygging the darn thing. Explorer then goes bananas, and eats up system ram until something crashes. I've searched around for a while on the web, and most points to hardware or partition issues.

What finally fixed things for me was this little thing:

Hotswap looks like the oldschool remove device thingy from XP. But beware, this thing can unmount any disk on the system beyond where the running OS is installed.

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The program that you linked is for the use of (e)SATA hard drives. I don't see how it can help on USB hard drives. – Alvin Wong Apr 18 '13 at 11:12

Many many years ago (in tha age of WinXP) I had a similar problem, and this trick helped me.
Follow these steps:

  1. Delete those folders
  2. Create files without extension and name them "System Volume Information" and "$Recycler".
  3. Make them read-only (right-click on file-> Properties -> General ->check Read Only flag).

(P.S. It worked in WinXP but I haven't tested them on Windows 7/8. Try and tell us if it works or not.)

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