If I add an NTFS partition to my USB, will it be accessible from both Windows and Ubuntu?

3 Answers 3


Only the first partition on a USB stick will be accessible by Windows, and it must be either FAT or NTFS.

If you want to create a Linux Live USB stick with an NTFS "shared" partition, do the following (using gparted):

  • Remove all partitions from it
  • Create the shared NTFS partition (must be the first in the drive)
  • Create the 700MB~1GB FAT partition (for the Live Session)
  • Make it bootable (right-click the partition > Manage Flags > boot)
  • Use the Startup Disk Creator to create an install in the second partition

This way you can:

  • Use the stick to boot the PC and either use a Live Session or Install Ubuntu
  • The Live partition will be invisible and un-accesible from Windows
  • The NTFS partition will be visible and accessible from both Windows and Ubuntu
  • That be annoying - what causes this limitation?
    – Oxwivi
    Jun 6, 2011 at 13:00
  • Its a Windows limitation. If only exposes the first partition of a USB-stick. If it is annoying, complain to Mr. Bill Gates :P
    – MestreLion
    Jun 6, 2011 at 13:30
  • Actually, i think this "limitation" is quite useful: the Live partition will be hidden when using the USB stick in Windows machines, so the stick will look clean, with no system files. Theres no mix of Ubuntu install files and my personal files (docs, music, etc). It will loook just like a regular USB stick (only a bit smaller), while still being able to boot Ubuntu
    – MestreLion
    Jun 8, 2011 at 9:56
  • Having to specifically place the partition in the beginning is what I find annoying. see?
    – Oxwivi
    Jun 8, 2011 at 12:40
  • 1
    The first part of this answer is obsolete. as of Win 10 all MS partitions are accessible on a flash drive. Jul 10, 2018 at 23:55

Yes it will. You can do this with gparted if you want. The only 2 partition formats that are accesible in both systems are Fat32 and NTFS. There are some ext2/ex3 read/write programs for windows but not 100% safe.

  • Then have I done something wrong? I made a NTFS partition on a live USB, but it wasn't detected. Worked fine in Ubuntu.
    – Oxwivi
    Jun 6, 2011 at 12:38
  • Maybe I chose something else by mistake. I'll try it again.
    – Oxwivi
    Jun 6, 2011 at 12:38
  • Try this: Format the USB with NTFS and copy something to it. Then go see in both systems if you can see it. Then create a live usb with an ubuntu iso (which would be fat32) and test if you can see it. Jun 6, 2011 at 13:29
  • I think MestreLion's answer explain the issue.
    – Oxwivi
    Jun 6, 2011 at 14:08


As of Windows 10, any Windows partition, (FAT, NTFS), is accessible, not just the first partition.

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