Delete Partition on a USB (Flash) Thumb Drive

I didn’t believe it until I saw it…. I purchased a USB thumb drive to deploy and run a FreeNAS server off of it but it kept err on me when FreeNAS was ready to copy files on the memory stick. Reason: unable to (re)partition and format the thumb drive the way FreeNAS needed.
As I was surrounded by Windows machines, I tried to manually delete the partion on the USB flash drive in Computer Management Console – Disk Management. But the “Delete Partition” menu option was always greyed out regardless of Windows flavor I was using (WinXP, Vista, W7).

After searching for an hour for a solution, I found that not only this is a common problem with these drives but also there is no solution that is both simple and cheap (free) in Windows.

So I went ahead and I downloaded “Linux Live CD” – its a full featured Linux distro that boots up and runs solely from DVD and offers you full access to anything on that machine. I chose Knoppix distro and I downloaded it free from here. It is a long download but it is worthed every second of waiting. For a not-so-savvy-Linux-guy like me, it was really impressive that it ran fine on machines with various hardware configurations. It is also a good way to learn Linux with no modifications of your Windows box.

The solution to my problem may seem troublesome but it is so easy, even somebody with zero Linux experience can do it.
Besides, I believe that Linux Live CD should be part of any administrator toolbox.
So write the the downloaded ISO on a DVD, insert the DVD into the unit and power up the PC.

First thing you need to do, once Knoppix has booted up and is running, is to plug in the USB drive in and find out its (Linux) name. Go to “Start” -> System Tools -> Disk Utility. Scroll down the left side until you find your USB drive and look in the right panel for its name as shown bellow.

Now go to “Start” -> System Tools -> Konsole and (1) type in

fdisk /dev/sdb

(or whatever your drive name is)
(2) Type in

d

to delete the existing partition and (3) then

w

to update the partition table. You may get some errors like bellow (ignore them):
Sequence of commands
Shut down, plug the USB drive out and now it is indeed empty (and ready for FreeNAS installation)

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~ by romerica on 30/03/2010.

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