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Why Does the Partition Size Matter Inside an Image File?

This topic is brought up today because we hear some Users have issues understanding this point. The partition size inside an image file does matter. The question we will answer today is why it matters.

Let us start off with two simplified overviews. First, all storage devices use a partition to define it’s characteristics. A storage device has a file system, like FAT32 or exFAT or NTFS and that file system has a defined size or digital capacity. These characteristics, and some others, are laid out in the partition.

Second, an image file is the above partition with all its detail, the file system, defined capacity along with all the actual files and folders on that partition and put into a single file or .img file.

For a non-technical person, let me use a puzzle as an example.

partition table, puzzle, image file

  • The puzzle box is equivalent to the physical device.
  • The plastic bag inside the puzzle box, holding all the pieces, is the image file.
  • Print on the puzzle box indicating the number of pieces, is the partition.
  • The puzzle pieces inside the box are equivalent to the data.

Okay, so at this point we know the image file (.img) is the bag which holds all the puzzle pieces and the data are all the bits inside the bag. So let’s address the question of this post, “Why does the partition size matter inside an image file?”

Back to the puzzle box. As with any puzzle, the outside of the box lists the number of pieces. In this example, we can use the number of pieces printed on the outside of the box as the partition table size. If the physical box size is, let us say, 8″ x 11″ then it’s totally logical that a 1,000 piece puzzle would fit inside. In fact, it is logical to say even a 20 piece puzzle will fit inside the box. But, could a 5,000 piece puzzle fit inside this box?

From the three scenarios above, one doesn’t work, right? The scenario where the box says there are 5,000 puzzle pieces in a box that is physically to small.

Partitions are the same.

The situation which doesn’t work, is when the print on the outside of the puzzle is telling you the number of pieces inside the box are clearly more than what the physical box can handle.

Said another way, you cannot use a partition table size of 4GBs and try to have the image file fit on a USB stick that has only 1GB of storage space. Even if the image file itself is only 1GB large of actual data. Just like the puzzle, no matter what is printed on the outside of the box, if the number of pieces are larger than what can fit inside the box… it just doesn’t work.

Here is a real-world example: You can download this IMG file which is only 40MB large. The IMG itself has a 4GB partition inside it. As long as you write out the IMG file to a flash drive that is 4GBs or larger, everything will work. If you try and write out the IMG file to something smaller, like a 2GB stick, it won’t work.

What happens?

Windows is very smart. All versions of Windows (from 7 and higher) will take a look at the total available memory and compare that to the partition table size. If Windows sees the partition table is larger than the available memory of the device, she won’t let you do anything with the device… other than format it. Once the drive is formatted, Windows will automatically rewrite the partition table to fit the amount of available memory. In this example, Windows would format the drive to become a 2GB stick… not a 4GB stick.

Why does Windows do this?

They want to eliminate fraud. Windows 7 was introduced in 2009 and before that, the only OS was WindowsXP. Well, Windows XP didn’t have the capability to compare partition tables to available memory. The result was fraud. Many would sell some larger GB capacity drive… like at the time 32GB, but only 4GB of real, usable, memory was there. The user would run out of memory space long before the “printed capacity” of the drive was reached.

If you found this article; maybe there is a situation where an image file is not working when written out to a USB flash drive? If this is the case, be sure to check your partition table compared to the amount of physical memory available. The easiest way to check, would be mounting the IMG file on your computer and check Properties for the partition size. Keep in mind, the default “Mount” command in Windows doesn’t work. You need something like this.

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How To Format a Flash Drive as UDF (Windows 7 & 10 Solution)

When trying to format a flash drive in Windows (7 or 10) you will see the file system options best suited for the device. The proper file systems for a flash drive would be: FAT, FAT32 or exFAT. Windows will also list NTFS for a flash drive, but not the best for a USB stick, as mentioned before. The file system types listed by the Windows GUI (Graphical User Interface) will depend on the GB capacity of the flash drive connected.

So why no UDF file system on the list?

First, let me say it IS possible for Windows to format a flash drive as UDF (Universal Disk Format). Microsoft just doesn’t want you to do it; and there are good reasons why.

Before the reasons given for not using UDF as a format on flash drives, let’s clear one thing up: If you think formatting a flash drive as UDF will make the thumb drive appear as an optical drive in the computer – you are mistaken!

From the Wikipedia page about Universal Disk Format, UDF, the specification is governed by the Optical Storage Technology Association and because of that, many believe a UDF anything will work like a disc. It, UDF, is most widely used for DVDs and newer optical disc formats, can be used on flash drives, but does make it operate like one.

If we take out the hope of formatting a USB with a UDF file system, some may feel the Universal Disk Format means the flash drive will work in anything, such as from Windows, to Mac, to Linux, Symbian and/or to proprietary system. The truth here is exFAT will do just the same. Please keep that in mind.

So why not format a USB as UDF in Windows? Here is a list:

  • The lack of fully-functional filesystem check tools.
  • 64GB limit with Windows & Linux, a bug, not a limit of UDF
  • SD and USB mass storage devices are exposed to quick wear-leveling failure
  • UDF is read-only for Windows XP

Without bogging down this post with ultra-technical information, from the above list, the most important to consider is the first, lack of filesystem check tools.

This means if the USB is pulled out while in operation and a bit is affected by the action, there are no tools to check the file system for errors. You are flying the dark as to why the USB no longer works and there are no tools available to help you figure it out. Given the flash drive was specifically designed to be portable and quick access, the above action is most certainly going to happen sooner or later, which makes UDF a high risk file system.

How to format a flash drive as UDF:

Connect the USB to your computer and note the assigned drive letter

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Change USB Connection Sound, #Easy

We all spend so much time on our computer, its worth customizing sounds and events we experience while using the computer. Today, we will cover the topic of changing the USB sound when a USB device is connected. You can really have some fun with this, especially if you consider some of the USB jokes mention before, and how those jokes could apply when a USB is shoved into a USB port.

While your mind wonders, I’ll move along to the tutorial part of this post:

In the search field, type in Control Panel and select the Control Panel.

From with in the Control Panel click Hardware and Sound

From the Sounds category, select Change system sounds

The window will pop up on the “Sound” tab and you’ll need to scroll down through the list of “Program Events” to find Device Connect and you will click on that time to highlight it.

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USB Flash Drive Doesn’t Get Assigned a Drive Letter: Solution

You’ve connected a USB flash drive, heard the familiar Windows sound of connection, yet no drive letter shows up. You then go into Disk Management for Windows and you can see the device and memory, but no drive letter.

What should you do?

USB key in computer

Most times this process is automatic and Windows will asign a drive letter to any storage device connected to your PC, whether it be a USB stick or a USB hard drive, or any other mass storage device.

However; in the event a drive letter isn’t assigned there is a very quick way to get your computer back to working the way it should.

  1. Open Command Prompt as Administrator (search for CMD and right click to open as Admin)
  2. Type ‘diskpart’ and hit Enter.
  3. Once in the DISKPART type automount enable and click Enter.

USB key diskpart

If the above doesn’t do the trick, another issue may be at hand. Maybe some conflicting registry entries from past USB devices connected to the PC and for this reason the automount was disable, or no longer working properly.

Nexcopy has a registry cleaning tool specifically design for USB devices connected to your computer. This utility is an exe file that does not require installation and does not have spyware, malware or anything else. It’s from a company you may

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How To: Enable / Disable USB Write Protection in Windows 10

The link below is for a zip file which has two batch files to either set the USB write protection, or remove the USB write protection for a Windows 10 computer. This batch file also works for Windows 7 machines.

This solution is ultra-easy and very quick. One click to run the reg edit file and one click to confirm the task. That’s it.

Typically a person will want to lock down the USB ports of a computer to insure a virus doesn’t spread to the computer through a USB device, like a flash drive. The nice thing about this batch file is a very quick and easy way to both lock down your USB ports, and equally easy way to unlock your USB ports.

It’s important to note; do not have a USB flash drive connected to the system when you run either batch file.

For those looking for a bit more detail, the information below is the specific registry edit we are making. Changing the dword to 00000001 sets the device policy for the computer to be write protected. Changing that value back to 00000000 will make the USB ports read/write.

[HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control
\StorageDevicePolicies]
“WriteProtect”=dword:00000001

It is also important to understand this USB write protect solution is not specific to the USB stick itself. Nor will this solution work on all Windows machines when you move USB drives from computer to computer. Said another way, this change is PC specific.

If you need USB write protection to be permanent to the device and universal to anything the USB is connected to, you may contact Nexcopy.com and ask for their Lock License drives. This is a solution we have found works very well and is done at the controller level of the USB stick itself. Meaning, the USB is write protected for anything it is connected to. The value of this configuration is no chance for a virus to jump onto the USB stick in the first place. This last solution is really the best solution for universal USB write protection.

Here is a screen shot of the two batch files:

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Only 1 USB Drive Can Be Use – Others Are Ignored

The most common reason why only one flash drive is usble when multiple USBs are connected is due to a device signature collision.

If you are dealing with bootable devices and seeing this problem, we are confident a collision is the issue. If you are not dealing with a bootable device, then our information below will, probably, not help.

USB hard drive sketch

What is a USB signature collision?

A signature collision can happen on any bootable device, so Compact Flash cards, SD cards, microSD cards and USB flash drives. A disk signature is a unique identifier number (UID). It is a unique identifier stored as part of the MBR (Master Boot Record) for an operating system loaded on the device. The operating system will use the UID to identify and distinguish between storage devices. It is commonly made up of eight alphanumeric characters. A disk collision occurs when your operating system (Windows) detects that there are two disks with identical signatures.

For Windows 7, 8, 8.1 and 10, these versions of Windows will disable the second drive and will not allow that second volume to mount until the disk collision has been rectified. If you are reading this article, chances are, this is exactly what is happening to you.

The first thing to do is navigate to the Disk Management tool with in Windows. To do this, use the search tool and type in Disk Management. This will take you to the utility that Windows offers. Here you can see your multiple devices connected. If you click or hover over the device not working you will see one of two messages:

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Solved: Windows Will Not Assign Drive Letter To USB Flash Drive

Problem Issue:

This is happening on Win8 and Windows 10.
When I remove a USB drive and reconnect it, Windows will not assign a drive letter. Clearly this is a problem as every other computer I use assigns a drive letter.

There are three solutions. All of which will work.

      1) You can go into Disk Management and select the device and assing a drive letter. This is a manual process and not ideal for each time you plug in a flash drive.
      2) Good chance the driver or registry entry for that device is rogue or corrupt. Use this USBScrub tool to remove the registry entry. Chances are this will fix the problem. USBScrub link
      3) Use ‘diskpart’ and enable the automount feature.
  • Open Command Prompt as Administrator (search for Command Prompt in the Start Menu, right click, Run as Administrator)
  • Type ‘diskpart’ and hit Enter.
  • Once in the ‘diskpart’ command prompt type ‘automount enable’ and hit Enter.
  • Type ‘exit’ and click Enter

For solution number one from above, Disk Management is really the GUI version for diskpart, but a GUI (Graphical User Interface) which has scaled down functions from what all the things diskpart can really do.

Diskpart has 37 commands that you can do very cool things with. The 38th command is

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Windows 10 Update, Hickup With Flash Drives

We have read on-line that Microsoft’s May 2019 update might not happen for those with connected USB sticks or SD cards. Microsoft claims the update will simply not happen if the OS detects these connected devices. The reason, Microsoft might re-assign drive letters to those connected devices.

On my first pass of reading this, the reassignment of drive letters doesn’t sound all that bad. Especially for a removable drive. However; Microsoft goes on to state that internal hard drives could also be affected by the drive letter shuffle.

There is your red flag!

The newly published Windows 10 support document reveals; those computers already having the April 2018 (version 1803) or October 2018 (version 1809) updates installed will receive this error message: “This PC can’t be upgraded to Windows 10.”

The Microsoft documentation does not referrence internal hard drives getting reassigned drive letters when no USB or SD card is detected and for that reason we feel you are safe during the update process. This is why Microsoft is blocking the update all together when a USB or SD card is detected in your system. Microsoft understands the importance of mounted internal hard drives; thus their blocking of the update.

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How To: Delete and Keep “System Volume Information” Folder Off Flash Drives

If you have found this post, chances are you are trying to delete and keep the “System Volume Information” folder off your flash drive.

UPDATE: Thank you to a reader sending in additional information, we now have a solution that is universal to all PCs. You will never get the “There’s a problem with this drive. Scan the drive now to fix it” message. To get this universal fix, scroll to the bottom of this message and look for “Updated Solution.”

I will venture to say, there are probably five reasons why you are trying to remove this directory (probably more):

  • You have a SmartTV or stereo in your car and the device is showing this folder, and often times, is the default start location to resume play, so you want to remove it.
  • A binary verification utility is failing and it shows this folder as the source of inconsistency.
  • The “Disk needs to be scanned and repaired message” keeps popping up when you remove a drive without using the Eject function from Windows.  You are now going crazy and want to stop that message forever.
  • A virus software utility is indicating this folder has a potential problem  (smart hackers could stick their code in here)
  • You are performing some kind of USB duplication process and this folder continues to be a problem, therefore you want to remove it.

Go ahead and skim down this article if you want to get right to the instructions.  For now, I’m going to take some time to explain what this folder is.  Knowledge is power, and maybe the reason for why it’s there, will deter you from wanting to delete it.

For any disk or storage device connected to Windows will have the “System Volume Information” folder.  This is a hidden system file, so if you don’t see it, that is the reason why.  You can see this file when you turn on “See Hidden Files” in your view properties settings.

The System Volume Information folder contains two files.  The two files are meant for setting restore points and indexing for what is on the drive.  Windows is trying to help you if and when you need to search the device for data.

The two files are the IndexerVolumeGuid and WPSettings.dat file.  The indexer file assigns a unique identifier (GUID, Global Unique ID) to the drive.  The indexing service examines the files so when you connect the drive to the computer in the future, Windows checks the identifier and knows which search database to associate with the drive.

WPSettings.dat file is used for Windows Phone’s Storage settings.  If you are dealing with a hard drive, this could be a good thing, if dealing with a flash drive, you don’t need it.  I haven’t met a person yet who backed up their phone data to a USB stick.

If you are still on the fence about whether you should remove this folder or not, think about this:  If you are dealing with a hard drive with an operating system, don’t delete it.  If you are dealing with mass storage drives, like a USB flash drive, you can remove it with little fear something bad will happen.

So how do you remove this folder?

How do you keep from this folder coming back?

The solution is a two-step process.  The first step will be disabling the indexing and thus, ask Windows not to put the folder on the drive.

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Why is my USB name always CAPS?

Why is my USB name always CAPS?

The reason is fairly simple. You also have the option to make your USB name or USB volume name upper and lower case.

The all CAPS of a USB name is due to your flash drive being formatted as FAT or FAT32. Windows will not allow FAT or FAT32 devices to use lower case letters.

To use lower case letters, or upper and lower case letters, simply format the drive as exFAT or NTFS. Note; we do not recommend formatting a USB as NTFS … so better to stick with exFAT.

Here are some screen shots to help better understand exactly what to do.

# Right click your USB drive letter, select Format, and do as the images below show

USB name all CAPS

##

USB name upper lower case
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How To: Partition a USB Flash Drive in Windows

Using Windows 10, you can partition a USB flash drive into multiple partitions. The process is not difficult, you simply follow some easy steps. This tutorial will partition the drive so that your device is assigned multiple drive letters when connected to the computer.

This partition process is not done at the USB controller level; or said another way, done at the hardware level. This USB partition process, for a lack of better terms, is done at the software level. What does this mean for you? It means the partitions can be wiped off the drive and full capacity of the USB flash drive can be restored.

When a USB stick is partitioned at the controller level, or at the hardware level, there is no way to reverse the partition. The multi-partition drive is permanent. At the end of this tutorial is the solution for a hardware based partition solution.

So let’s get started.

How to partition a USB flash drive in Windows 10:

Connect the USB flash drive to your Windows 10 machine. Be sure there is nothing valuable on the USB as this process will remove all content from the drive.

Right Click the Windows icon and select Disk Management.

The Disk Management window will appear with all the connected devices. Select your USB flash drive by clicking one time. By selecting your flash drive, it will allow Windows to apply the partition to that device.

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