USB drive repair

This week, a note to my future self: undoing a USB drive that was flashed with a bootable image is a pain in the neck.

This week my wife wanted a USB thumb drive so she could take some documents to her mother's house and print them out using her printer, because ours is a pain in the neck and it's out of ink.  Well, the good news is that I had two drives handy!  The bad news is that neither of them did anything when I plugged them into her computer.

Of course, it turns out that, at some point, I'd used both of these as bootable drives for a something Linux-based.  This means, of course, that Windows can't read the partitions, so it can't write files to them.  In fact, when I plugged the drives in, nothing happened - they didn't even show up in Explorer.  So I had to fix them.

Well, the first one was pretty easy.  I just used the "Disk Management" console (a.k.a. diskmgmt.msc).  Using that, I was able to see the disk and it's partitions.  It was then a simple matter of deleting the existing partitions, creating a new one, and formatting it.  Then Windows found the drive just fine.

That didn't work so well for the second disk.  The drive showed up with an EFI partition and a lot of unallocated space.  I tried to create a partition in that space, but it didn't work.  So I eventually ended up downloading Rufus.  This is a handy tool that I've used in the past to image USB drives with ISO images.  Well, it can also do a plain-old reformat of a drive.  I just selected "unbootable" for the boot image, GPT for the partition type, and told it to format.  Rufus successfully blew away the entire drive and gave me back a fresh, working USB drive.

So the process wasn't too bad.  It's just a matter of realizing what's going on and getting an appropriate tool to fix it.

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