How to restore or reclaim a usb memory stick.

Around the end of the year, during the holidays I decided to try and make a live USB using Kubuntu for work. This I did with success, however, I used it so infrequently at home (I don’t have much need for it at work at the moment as I am mostly constrained to field work due to staff shortages). So I have decided to re-deploy the memory stick for storing my ebooks (see a later post on ebooks).

I thought it would have been easy to reformat the stick like I had done in the past but this was not the case as the facility to do this by right clicking the icon is gone which I found when I tried this on another memory stick that I wanted to reclaim. If the memory stick was used as a live USB then you really cann’t do this anyway as it comes up on the screen as two separate icons.

A google search produced a few how-tos which didn’t work using the terminal for some reason but a couple of forum posts did suggest using gParted but these weren’t that detailed, just a suggestion with no detailed instruction. Once Gparted was installed on my laptop with Mint (Mate desktop) it was pretty simple.

Step 1- Open gParted as superuser.

Step 2- In the right hand corner of the applications window is a drop down selection box to allows you to pick the drive to reformat…choose the usb stick. In this case it was showing as      /dev/sdb   (14.84GB)

Step 3- It is likely that you will need to unmount the partitions that are listed as mounted as the device would have been mounted when it was attached to the computer. After highlighting these goto Partition in the tool bar and click unmount.

Step 3- Go back to the tool bar and click on Device and select “Create Partition Table

Step 4- A window will now appear with

WARNING: This will ERASE ALL DATA on the ENTIRE DISK /dev/sdb

Click the apply button

After a few seconds everything will be gone leaving you with the table showing ‘unallocated’….

You now need to create a new partition,

Step 5- Click on create partition table again and select advanced in the window that appears and then click apply. Nothing will happen straight away, as you need to go to Edit in the top tool bar and click apply operations.

This will take a few minutes. Your memory stick will now be reformated and nearly ready for use.

At this stage you will be able to plug in and have it auto mount but it will be read only…it will be set to root as user. To fix this you can follow the instructions found on the internet to change permissions via the terminal. After some messing around with no real solution (the instructions didn’t give the full solution, just hints because I think they were for directories, folder etc not usb sticks).

My solution was to login as root on my Fedora machine. Open file manager and go to the USB stick and right click. Go to permissions and set the user from root to this

User: <your user name>

Group: <your user group/name>

As soon as you finish this bit LOG OUT of root. Being logged in as root is normally very bad. Only do it for certain things and this was the first time I have done it for sometime…

You are now done.



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