Ubuntu – Format USB drive to NTFS so it is usable under Windows


When I format a drive to NTFS under Windows and plug it into the Ubuntu machine it is perfectly usable, but when I format it under Ubuntu using Disks (delete all partitions and create one single partition with NTFS) it does not show up when plugged into the Windows machine.

Please note that in both cases the USB drive contains only one, primary partition formatted to NTFS, for example:

/dev/sdb – the actual device
/dev/sdb1 – the only, primary partition

I've observed this behaviour both with a solid state USB pen-drive as well as an external USB magnetic HDD.

How to (re)format a USB HDD or a stick to NTFS under Ubuntu so it is usable under Windows?

Best Answer

gparted (GNU Partition Editor) is a good graphical tool for formating drives to a variety of different filesystem types. You can install it with sudo apt-get install gparted.

Just as when you are using Disks, be very careful that you are making changes to the correct device. You can format your device to NTFS using the following steps:

  1. Select the correct device from the dropdown selector on the top right.
  2. Delete any partitions that already exist on the device.
  3. Create a new partition using all of the available space and set the type to ntfs
  4. Click the "Apply" button and wait for the operations to complete

If Windows still doesn't recognize the device, the partition table may be in a different type than the MS-DOS type (Ubuntu uses gpt partition type by default I think). Click "View >> Device Information" from the menu to see what the partition table type is. In this case, use the "Device >> Create Partition Table" menu option to change the partition table type to MS-DOS. You may have to follow the above steps again to create your NTFS partition.

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