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I want to split a large external USB hard drive into at least 2 partitions.

I've heard that multiple partitions on a USB drive involves problems not associated with partitioning a regular IDE/SATA hard drive, especially with Windows. But I can't find specific information about it.

What are those specific problems, and how are they avoided or worked around? Do journaling file systems like ext3, ext4, xfs present special concerns for a USB drive? What are the particular problems Windows has with a partitioned USB drive that don't exist with regular internal drives?

I plan to use Linux (most likely GParted) to do the partitioning. I also plan to use Truecrypt's whole-partition encryption on the partitions, so a thief doesn't have easy access to the data.

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up vote 1 down vote accepted

Normally Windows does not support multiple partitions on USB, but Linux has no problems with it. Windows has no trouble seeing the other partitions, it just will not let you assign them drive-letters.

One solution is to use a utility such as Lexar BootIt to flip the Removable Media Bit setting of a USB drive. This utility works with Lexar drives, but for everything else you use it at your own risk.

For another solution to trick Windows into thinking that the USB is an internal disk, see this article:
How To Create Multiple USB Stick Partitions.

The article refers to a product called Hitachi Microdrive whose download doesn't exist any more, but can still be found here. However, it will only work for a 32-bit version of Windows.

The article Fool the BIOS booting any USB stick as a Hard Disk claims that if the USB is already partitioned (which you can do via Linux), many BIOS will treat it as a hard internal disk. Maybe yours does too, but the article is not very recent.

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Thanks. I can live with Windows only seeing one partition; I'll use Linux for the occasional need to transfer a file from one partition to another. – Mike Rowave Apr 15 '11 at 14:18
Without using trickery, how do I ensure that Windows sees the one partition I want it to see? Does the partition have to be placed first, or last? Or do I format only one partition with a format Windows that can understand (FAT32 or NTFS), so that Windows will see the FAT32/NTFS partition and ignore the ext2/ext3 Linux partition? – Mike Rowave Apr 15 '11 at 14:24
it might 'just work' on a standard usb hard drive - they arn't the same as a USB stick to windows – Journeyman Geek Apr 15 '11 at 14:39
For Windows, only the physically first partition is (almost) guaranteed to be accessible. The other partitions might or might not, depending on parameters that are not all that clear, and that also depend upon the version of Windows. – harrymc Apr 15 '11 at 15:30

I followed these step and it worked for me.

First do a clean on your drive:

Second, execute in diskpart this command: create primary partition (

Then go in the Windows Disk Management Tool and create the new volume you need and assign them a letter.

It worked for me, I now have my 5tb WD My Book drive with 2 partitions. One for my XBOX One and the other for my computer.

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