Some time ago I made a question asking How to install Ubuntu on a USB external Hard Drive without losing its external storage ability. They've closed my question and sent to this one.

Today I did the steps "Installing Ubuntu to a removable USB drive with Virtual Box". But When I try to use the Hard Drive as a normal USB Stick, the system doesn't recognize it. I'm using Windows, the Windows detects the drive. Although the bootable Ubuntu works fine, the windows doesn't recognize as hard drive unit. Does it really lead for what I wanted to?

  • This question is hard to understand. Are you wanting to create a Virtualbox image of Ubuntu, and have that image be on a USB drive? Also, when you say 'the system doesn't recognise it' which system are you referring to? Dec 21, 2012 at 20:41
  • I want to fully install the Ubuntu on my external Hard drive and keep using it to store data (as a normal USB stick). "The system" refers to Windows.
    – Doon
    Dec 21, 2012 at 20:45
  • Okay, that is still an exact duplicate of the one you link to in the question here. You mention Virtualbox, that's the confusing bit. What exactly does Virtualbox have to do with fully installing on the external drive? Dec 21, 2012 at 20:48
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    Just added a link to the answer. It will be clearer now. The answer uses VirtualBox to do it. Check my answer again. Thank you :)
    – Doon
    Dec 21, 2012 at 20:54
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    Thanks for following up but I still don't see why you would use Virtualbox. Why are you using Virtualbox for this? It appears the best thing for you to do is already answered in the duplicate. All you need is two partitions on the USB drive, one for Ubuntu and one (NTFS) for data that Windows can use. What file system are you using for data on the USB drive? If yuo formatted it ext3 or ext4 WIndows can' see it. Is that the issue here? Dec 21, 2012 at 21:03

1 Answer 1


I would recommend the method suggested by Tom Brossman in the comment above.

Create two partitions on your drive, one for Ubuntu and the other for your Data (NTFS). You may create a third 2 to 4Gb partition for Swap if you wish (recommended).

When you plug it in a Windows machine, the OS will recognise the NTFS partition and mount it normally while ignoring the ext4 partition for Ubuntu and the Swap partition if there is one.

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    This is the way to go. Sorry for my noobish!
    – Doon
    Dec 22, 2012 at 13:23

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