How to Remove a Linux Partition From a USB Memory Stick


Linux distributions often install on a bootable USB memory stick. Creating a bootable installation disk allows the system to run Linux at startup from a portable and rewritable device. Operating systems treat bootable disk devices differently than standard storage drives, and you cannot simply erase the Linux installation information as you would other files. Removing Linux from a USB memory stick and returning it to its original function as a file storage device requires reformatting the device. Windows, OS X, as well as some free third-party utilities can format a USB drive in only a few moments.


  • Connect the USB drive to the system and open the Control Panel. Select "Administrative Tools." Double-click the "Computer Management" icon.

  • Click on "Disk Management" and wait for Windows to recognize the internal and connected memory devices. Click to highlight the USB drive.

  • Click the "Action" menu. Highlight "All tasks" and click on "Format. Click "Yes" to confirm.

  • Enter a name in the "Volume label" box, and select the desired drive format from the "File system" menu. Click "OK" to perform the operation and remove Linux from the device.


  • Connect the USB drive to the Mac and open the Disk Utililty program, located in the Utilities section of the "Applications" folder.

  • Click on the USB drive in the list of connected disks in the left frame. Click on "Erase."

  • Click the "Volume Format" drop-down window and choose the desired disk format. Enter a name and click on "Start" to erase the Linux data.

HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool

  • Download the HP USB Tool from PCWorld or another mirror website. Run the downloaded EXE file and follow the instructions onscreen to install the software. The software runs on Windows systems.

  • Connect the USB stick to the system and open the HP USB Tool. Select the Linux memory stick from the "Device" drop-down menu.

  • Select the desired storage format from the "File system" menu and enter a name in the "Volume label" box. Click "Start" and confirm the operation to format the drive and remove Linux.

Tips & Warnings

  • These tools can all create drives of different formats, and while most formats are compatible with most modern devices, they each have slightly different features. By default, Windows machines use the NTFS format, while OS X systems us Mac OS Extended.

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  • Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images
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