By Gareth Ogden posted Aug 30th 2010
In the same way that it can be helpful to create multiple partitions on a large hard disk drive or SSD in order to better manage your data—for example a DATA partition and WINDOWS partition—it’s also helpful to do the same with high-capacity flash drives. For example, WORK and PERSONAL partitions, or a separate MUSIC partition, or even a BOOT partition for a Live Boot USB drive.
However, while it’s a simple task to partition a hard disk drive or SSD, it’s not quite so easy to partition a USB drive. This is simply because the former is considered a ‘Removable Storage Device’ by Windows, and Windows does not allow for multiple partitions on removable devices. A neat little trick to get around this is to simply turn your removable USB drive into a fixed logical disk drive by ‘flipping’ the removable bit in the firmware. This is the digital flag that tells Windows whether the drive is ‘fixed’ or ‘removable’. You can do this using the Lexar BootIt utility, available from here.
First, a word of caution—the BootIt utility is no longer supported, and since it was developed for Lexar USB drives, it doesn’t work on all USB drives. As such, use it as your own risk!
Having tested the utility on my 32GB Flash Voyager GT, and found it to work fine, I’ll continue. To turn the drive into a fixed disk, simply insert your USB drive and then run the BootIt application. Ignore the fact that it will probably have detected the capacity incorrectly because we’re not using this tool for anything other than the ‘Flip Removable Bit’ function.
Now click on the Flip Removable Bit button and, if all goes well, you should see a message indicating that the drive has been changed successfully, and to re-insert it for the changes to take effect. Unplug and re-insert the drive and it should now show up as a Hard Disk Drive!
The next step is to create the partitions. I’m going to partition this drive in preparation for installing a Live Boot Linux operating system (see here for more on how to do this), and the easiest way to do this is using Disk Manager.
Right click on My Computer and select ‘Manage’ and then click on ‘Disk Management’. Now, right-click on the large box corresponding to your flash drive and select ‘Delete Volume’. This will erase the current partition, so make sure you don’t have anything stored on the drive that you don’t want to lose!
Now right-click again and select ‘New Simple Volume’ to launch the partitioning wizard, follow the steps and create a 4GB (4096KB) volume, formatted in the FAT32 format and labelled ‘BOOT’. Remember to tick ‘Quick format’ too, or you’ll be waiting for some time. Now right-click again and select ‘Mark Partition as Active’. Repeat the process for the remaining un-partitioned space and call it ‘DATA’, or whatever you prefer, but this time do not mark the partition as active.
You now have a USB flash drive with two separate partitions, both of which will show up as separate fixed logical disks! To find out how to use one of these partitions to create a Live Boot USB drive, check back tomorrow for my second article!