Formatting a USB thumbdrive back to original using Linux fdisk command line

If you like Linux command line tools, fdisk is a good one for partitioning and formatting USB memory sticks, aks thumbdrives. This works for windows formatted thumbdrives as well.

WARNING: This process will delete any information that is currently stored on the USB key. Proceed with caution! When you Fdisk thumb drive you are likely to delete the entire USB thumb drive. You are in effect “formatting usb memory sticks”.

Reverting your USB key back to it’s original state:

A.) First we need to delete the old partitions that remain on the USB key.

1. Open a terminal and type sudo su
2. Type fdisk -l and note your USB drive letter.
3. Type fdisk /dev/sdX (replacing X with your drive letter)
4. Type d to proceed to delete a partition
5. Type 1 to select the 1st partition and press enter
6. Type d to proceed to delete another partition (fdisk should automatically select the second partition)

B.) Next we need to create the new partition.

1. Type n to make a new partition
2. Type p to make this partition primary and press enter
3. Type 1 to make this the first partition and then press enter
4. Press enter to accept the default first cylinder
5. Press enter again to accept the default last cylinder
6. Type w to write the new partition information to the USB key
7. Type umount /dev/sdX (replacing X with your drive letter)

C.) Lastly we need to create the fat filesystem.
For FAT16!
1. Type mkfs.vfat -F 16 /dev/sdX1 (replacing X with your USB key drive letter)

That’s it, you should now have a restored USB thumb drive with a single fat 16 partition that can be read from any computer.

1 Comment

  1. David says:

    Hurray! I had been looking for a fix to my unallocated partition all over, yours finally works. Thank you so much…and even better that my usb still works on my windows and ubuntu…So happy, now I can go to bed.

Leave a comment