I've got a USB stick with multiple Partitions on it (FAT32 (active), FAT32, Ext2, but that's another story) and it seems like that my Windows XP can only mount the first partition of the stick. If I try to mount the second one using the volume manager it tells me that I need to make it active and reboot...is it really that limited or am I just missing something here?


  • FAT32, System Rescue CD, bootable and active
  • FAT32, some tools
  • ext2, some data (I know that I need extra drivers, etc., but that's not asked here)

5 Answers 5


Windows XP doesn't support multiple partitions on removable drives.

However, if you really need this, you can try and flip the removable bit of a USB flash drive. This will tell Windows your removable drive is a fixed disk, thus enabling it to see and make use of multiple partitions.

  • Go to Lexar USB Flip tool.
  • Read the warning carefully.
  • Try it if the risk of losing all your pen drive data is not a problem.

Other manufacturers may provide a similar tool which is guaranteed to work on your USB stick. You may wish to check for this.

  • That was the kick into the right direction, I've found another solution which I'll post as edit. Thank you. :D
    – Bobby
    Oct 27, 2009 at 15:25
  • 4
    How will the flipping of the removable-bit influence other OS, do you know that? Feb 6, 2012 at 20:07

Partition USB Flash Drives

USB flash drives cannot be partitioned in the Windows operating system if the drive is identified as removable media. The only way to partition the USB flash drive is to flip the removable bit so that it is recognized as fixed media instead which can be partitioned like any normal hard drive.

A tool that can flip the bit and should work with most USB flash drives is Lexar’s USB format tool. It is a portable tool that has been designed for Lexar USB drives, but it works with other brands as well.

The main interface can not only be used to flip the removable bit, but also to format the USB drive, set a volume label and a partition to be bootable. You only need to press the flip removable bit button if you want to prepare the flash drive for use with multiple partitions. The drive has to be removed and connected again to the computer system afterwards.

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It should be noted that Lexar USB Format will not partition the USB flash drive which has to be done with other tools. For that you can use the built-in tools in the operating system. A more universal software is the gParted Live CD which can be booted from any computer system.

Another option to create multiple USB stick partitions has been discussed before at Ghacks. The process involves editing the Windows Registry and has the disadvantage that the add-on partitions are only visible on that computer system.


  • For anyone who can't see their removable drive in the list for some reason, try running the program as administrator and all your drives should show up.
    – user60287
    Dec 24, 2010 at 9:05
  • 3
    How will the flipping of the removable bit influence other OS, do you know that? Feb 6, 2012 at 20:08

Thanks to the answer with the RMB (ReMoveable Bit) I was able to dig up a solution described at this site (Section: On flash drive only the first partition works). Basically, there's an Hitachi Driver available which filters the RMB on Driver-Level, which just needs to be a little modified to function with basically every USB-Stick. All you need to do is adding the "Device Instance ID" to the driver and then use this driver.

Here's the basically important excerpt from the site by Uwe Schieber:

A filter driver for removing the RMB has been made by Hitachi for their Microdrives (Compatct Flash cards with a mini harddrive): xpfildrvr1224_320.zip It is 32 bits only, so it will not work on x64 editions of Windows.

By modifying the included INF file the filter driver can be used with any other 'removable' drive. For the device detection there are the lines in section [cfadisk_device]:

[cfadisk_device] %Microdrive_devdesc% =

IDE\DiskIBM-DSCM-11000__________________________ is the device ID of one of the supported Microdrives. In analogy to these lines we add one line for each 'removable' USB drive we want to turn into a USB hard drive. The ID is found in the Windows device management: Expand 'Disk drives', right click your USB drive, select Properties. On the tab "Details" under XP the item "Device instance ID" is already selected. Click on the ID in the List and press Ctrl+C, this copies the ID into the Windows Clipboard and can be pasted somewhere else with Ctrl+V. XP up to SP1 shows the tab "Details" only when the environment variable DEVMGR_SHOW_DETAILS=1 is set: DevMgr_Show_1.reg download and doubleclick the file, then relogon to take effect.

Sample: USBSTOR\DISK&VEN_LEXAR&PROD_JUMPDRIVE&REV_1.30\K326441127040&0 We need the fat part:

[cfadisk_device] %Microdrive_devdesc% =

Or much more simple the universal way for any USB disk:

%Microdrive_devdesc% = cfadisk_install,USBSTOR\GenDisk

In the last line of the INF file we change "Hitachi Microdrive" into something nice as "RemovableToFixed".

In the device manager again right-click the USB drive, "Update driver...", then "No, not this time" -> Next -> "Install from a list or..." -> Next -> "Don't search." -> Next -> "Have Disk" -> browse to the INF file here. Now "RemovableToFixed" should be in the list -> Next -> Confirm the two warnings -> Finish. Now the drive is redetected, actually as USB hard drive. The drive can be partitioned, the policy "Optimize for performance" indeed activates a write cache on FAT formatted drives and Windows will create the beloved folder "System Volume Information"... My tries to automat the installtion by means of Microsoft DEVCON did not succeed.

The filter driver can be removed by deleting the drive in the Windows Device Manager. After reattaching the drive its drivers are installed again, but not the filter driver.

%Microdrive_devdesc% = cfadisk_install,USBSTOR\GenDisk

  • I've got a problem to understand what I need to do... Please give a file example or a diff so I can see the modifications I need to do... Mar 8, 2015 at 20:21

Yes, it is a limitation of removable drives in Windows that they can only have one partition. You may be able to set it as a fixed drive if you have a compatible tool (from the manufacturer of your USB stick).

  • 1
    How will the flipping of the removable-bit influence other OS, do you know that? Feb 6, 2012 at 20:08

The previous answers are all out of date. As of Windows 10 version 1703 (2018), Windows now recognizes all partitions of removable flash drives without any workaround. Article link here: enter link description here

Try it out yourself.

  • The question explicitly mentions Windows XP, therefore I think your answer should be a comment. Sep 23, 2018 at 5:47
  • @KamilMaciorowski sure but that's because in 2009 he probably was still stuck with XP. The title is generic though. Why be so nitpicky? Even this windows feature wasn't highlighted much. I found out by accident and then googled for it. Sep 23, 2018 at 8:00

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