How to Partition a USB Flash Drive

By Andrew Benjamin

A partition is a part of a disk drive that is separate from the rest of the drive. Typically, Windows will not allow you to partition a USB flash drive because flash drives are removable media. Thus, you must convince Windows that your flash drive is a fixed drive, not unlike your hard drive. Partitioning a USB flash drive on Mac OS X is much easier and more straightforward and doesn't require anything but your USB flash drive.

Things You'll Need

  • Windows XP:
  • Lexar's BootIt Partition Manager (or equivalent program).

Step 1

Windows XP/Mac OS X:Make sure no valuable files are present on your USB flash drive. Once the drive has been partitioned, any and all files will be deleted.

Step 2

Windows XP:Download and install Lexar's BootIt, a free utility, or equivalent software to convince Windows that your flash drive is fixed media.Mac OS X:Insert a USB flash drive into the USB port. Open "Applications," "Disk Utility," then select the your flash drive.

Step 3

Windows XP:Insert your flash drive into the USB port. Open BootIt.Mac OS X: Under "Volume Scheme," click "2 Partitions" (or however many partitions you want to create). Select "Untitled 1" then enter a new name under "Volume Information." Next to "Format," make sure "Mac OS Extended (Journaled)" is selected. Input the size you want the partition to be; otherwise the default will be half of your overall space. Next, select "Untitled 2" and repeat the above process.

Step 4

Windows XP:Find and select your flash drive on BootIt's device screen. Click "Flip Removable Bit."Mac OS X:Click "Options" under what was previously entitled "Untitled 2." Select "GUID Partition Table" then click "OK."

Step 5

Windows XP:Eject, then reinsert, your flash drive.Mac OS X: Click "Apply." A warning will drop down explaining that your USB flash drive will be erased and replaced with your newly-named partitions 1 and 2. If no important information is present on the drive, click "OK."

Step 6

Windows XP:Go to the Windows "Start Menu," then the "Control Panel," then the "Performance and Maintenance" folder, and then the "Administrative Tools." Finally, double click "Computer Management," followed by "Disk Management." Locate your flash drive on the drive list. Right-click on your drive and select "Delete Partition." Then right-click on your drive again and select "New Partition." Follow the Disk Management instructions to create a "Primary Partition."Mac OS X: "Disk Utility" will then separate your USB flash drive into two partitions.

Tips & Warnings

  • Make sure no important files are present on your USB flash drive before partitioning it. If such files exist, back them up elsewhere, perhaps on your hard drive.