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Old 04-29-2021, 06:54 AM   #1
kimdino
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Unhappy Multiple partitions on USB stick problem


Hi folks,
For several years I have been carrying around on my keyring a 64Gb USB stick set up in the following way. The first partition (most of sticks capacity) is formatted into FAT32, while a second partition is set to bootable and carries a Linux installation kitted out with rescue tools along with other useful applications.

Thus, when plugged into a running MS-Windows box it behave as a normal USB memory stick with no complications as Windows is unable to see any but the first partition on a USB stick. However, almost any PC can be booted on this stick to a running Linux system useful for fixing the PC or other things. It proved a useful little tool as I'm sure others have discovered.

But, woe..., it broke about a year ago. I've been trying to replace it and have bought several USB sticks but have been unable to setup a good working 2nd partition. My latest attempt is a 2Tb stick on which both 'cfdisk' & 'GParted' can both create a 2nd partition, but this partition cannot be formatted. I could buy yet another USB stick and try again, but it seems a good time to seek advice before spending any more.

I have tried several different formats (ext2, ext, fat32, vfat, NTFS) using 'mkfs' and it's different incarnations. The format appears to go ok, but very slowly. But, on checking afterwards, the space is shown as allocated but the filesystem is reported as 'unknown'. Attempting to mount gives a failure with the report "The device /dev/sdd2' doesn't seem to have a valid NTFS.... etc".

Where am I going wrong, or is this a feature of modern USB sticks? I realise that the vast majority of computer users cannot conceive of a multi-partition USB stick as MS-Windoze can only see one. So, possibly manufacturers have responded by not bothering with the ability to carry a second?

Any comments or suggestion would be very welcome.

Thanks in advance, Kimdino

Last edited by kimdino; 04-29-2021 at 06:56 AM.
 
Old 04-29-2021, 08:21 AM   #2
TenTenths
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What brand is your "2Tb" stick?

If it's some "no-name" stick that you got for $50 on Amazon then throw it in the bin, it's fake and will never work.
 
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Old 04-29-2021, 08:29 AM   #3
michaelk
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I've never had a problem with creating or formatting multiple partitions on a flash drive. Without seeing exactly how the drive is partitioned or the exact commands you are running it is difficult to know where you are going wrong.

The drive could be a fake and not a true 2TB device which might be causing problems. Might be a software limitation but that is highly unlikely now days.
 
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Old 04-29-2021, 09:33 AM   #4
kimdino
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TenTenths View Post
If it's some "no-name" stick that you got for $50 on Amazon then throw it in the bin, it's fake and will never work.
Ermmm.... I have to admit <https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/392959301515?var=661875159315> and it is suspiciously cheap. But my criteria were good capacity, waterproof, rugged & HAD to have a secure keyring fitting. This was the only one listed that matched all that. But it's not 'fake' in that it works perfectly well in all other respects. Could a fake manage to fool both cfdisk & GParted into listing a false 1.9Tb capacity? Anyway, I have tried with several other different sticks over the past year with similar results.

Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelk View Post
Without seeing exactly how the drive is partitioned or the exact commands you are running it is difficult to know where you are going wrong.
# cfdisk /dev/sdx
where I tried, in turn, '83 Linux', '7 HPFS/NTFS/exFAT', 'b W95 FAT32', & '85 Linux Extended' as Type.
then
# mkfs.ext2 -L rescue_boot /dev/sdx2
or
# mkfs.vfat /dev/sdx2
or
# mkfs.ntfs /dev/sdx2
or
# mkfs.ext2 /dev/sdx2

This shows the current setup as listed by 'cfdisk'. It is typical of all the attempted variations of partition type and space left free at the end. The space allocations and details of the first partition are common to all attempts.
Disk: /dev/sdd
Size: 1.9 TiB, 2097152000000 bytes, 4096000000 sectors
Label: dos, identifier: 0xfa2cb833

Device.........Boot.....Start..................End..............Sectors.............Size...........I d Type
/dev/sdd1...............2048................3196061695.....3196059648......1.5T.......b W95 FAT32
/dev/sdd2.....*.....3196061696.......4095885311.....899823616........429.1G....b W95 FAT32
Free space.........4095885312.....4095999999.......114688..............56M

The 56Mb at the end was left by me as a safety margin to avoid any possible problem with reading close to end end of the space.

I will try to find a 'good quality' stick to try once more, but I'm loathe to throw away any more money on a possibly lost cause, so would like to be more sure first.

Last edited by kimdino; 04-29-2021 at 10:32 AM. Reason: Trying to get a readable layout of cfdisk output.
 
Old 04-29-2021, 09:42 AM   #5
TenTenths
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kimdino View Post
it is suspiciously cheap.
Fake as hell!!!! A SanDisk 1Tb costs 180, so a 2Tb for 6.... yeah right!

Throw it in the bin and save yourself any more grief. It's screwed with to report the wrong drive sizes etc.
 
Old 04-29-2021, 10:56 AM   #6
teckk
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Tools to troubleshoot:

Put the stick into the usb port and look at the output of
Code:
dmesg | tail
lsusb
fdisk -l
parted -l 
ls /dev/disk/by-id
ls /dev/disk/by-id/usb*
fsck -v -a /dev/disk/by-id/<the ID>
Or wipe it and start over.
Use fdisk and delete all partitions, make new ones.
Then format each partition.
Code:
mkfs.fat -F 32 /dev/disk/by-id/<ID>
mkfs.ntfs /dev/disk/by-id/<ID>
mkfs.ext4 /dev/disk/by-id/<ID>
If it is fake then, you can at least find out what it is.

Edit:
You may start with
Code:
dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sdx bs=1M coun=10
Then start over.

/dev/sdx is the USB drive, "MAKE SURE YOU HAVE THE RIGHT ONE"

Last edited by teckk; 04-29-2021 at 11:01 AM.
 
Old 04-29-2021, 11:16 AM   #7
michaelk
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I agree the probability the drive is fake is quite high.

There is a set of linux tools called f3 that can test for fakes. I've never tried them so no clue how it works.

FYI if you use code tags you don't need all the ..... to align columns
 
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Old 05-04-2021, 08:20 AM   #8
kimdino
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Hi again folks,
Sorry, but I thought I had posted an intermediate statement but it doesn't seem to be here. It stated how I had tested the USB stick with f3 tools (michaelk, thanks for that pointer) which proved that the 2Tb stick was fake. It also stated that I had ordered a more expensive stick (20) with a reputable name (Samsung) and would report back when the new stick arrived. I also submitted a 'Return' to the ebay seller with a full report on why? I also threatened to report them as selling fake goods if they didn't remove these USB sticks from sale (may work).

The new stick has now arrived. The first thing I did with it was run f3probe on it to see the difference. I was very annoyed (actual language was far more colourful) to see that the 'Samsung' stick was also fake. This is now the 4th or 5th stick I've bought for this purpose. Is it possible to reliably buy a real stick on ebay et.al?

I'll now try getting one from Currys, even though they are way overpriced and I was trying to avoid physical contact (Covid). At least I'll have someone to scream & shout at if this comes to another failure

Anyway, thanks guys for all your help. I'll report back after trying a stick from Currys.

Last edited by kimdino; 05-04-2021 at 08:21 AM. Reason: typo. Wrote 'g3' instead of 'f3'
 
Old 05-04-2021, 08:27 AM   #9
TenTenths
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I'd only ever buy anything "Sold by Amazon / fulfilled by Amazon" when it comes to easily faked stuff like this.
 
Old 05-04-2021, 09:00 AM   #10
michaelk
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Although there are plenty of fake or "misrepresented" flash drives on Amazon too.

You did not post what you purchased but again, your probably not going to get a good flash drive over 1TB for less then $130 US regardless of the name on the outside.

I doubt anything sold by Currys will be fake.
 
Old 05-04-2021, 01:28 PM   #11
kimdino
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Heeeeyyyyy! My USB stick has gone Slack. Well, almost (see below).

I have just booted up on the 2nd partition that I had 'cfdisk'ed onto the Sandisk 128Gb the I have just bought from Currys for 24.99. It to booted from the stick, 'LILO' picked up and started the Slackware 14.2 boot routine.... then hit a Kernel Panic. But that's another problem, the main point is that the stick worked. Many thanks for all your help, guys.

btw -> michaelk. Sorry, I did forget to give details of the previous usb stick. It was, apparently, a Samsung 128Gb for what seemed a reasonable price (20) from ebay. It certainly looked genuine and had the Samsung markings on its case but....

You live and learn <sheepish grin>. Thanks again for all your help.
 
Old 05-04-2021, 02:20 PM   #12
TenTenths
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Glad you got sorted.
 
Old 05-04-2021, 03:33 PM   #13
sundialsvcs
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My suggestion is to buy a USB-connected true external hard drive. You can get a 2TB drive for about $80USD. It's powered by the interface, and about the size of a pack of playing cards.

"USB sticks" have large capacity, but they are slow when writing data. They're really intended only for storage of things that are not expected to be updated frequently.
 
  


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