I'm using a USB drive of 128GB on which I installed Ubuntu 16, I'm using this drive to run Ubuntu alongside Windows. This works fine, except for one thing; I can't see the FAT32 partition in Windows which I created via Ubuntu. It is partition /dev/sdb3:

Device     Boot     Start       End   Sectors  Size Id Type
 /dev/sdb1              32 156250031 156250000 74.5G 83 Linux
 /dev/sdb2       156250112 187500543  31250432 14.9G 82 Linux swap / Solaris
 **/dev/sdb3       187500544 242614271  55113728 26.3G  b W95 FAT32**

But what I would like to have is a partition on the USB drive that both Windows and Ubuntu can work with. For that goal I created the partition '/dev/sdb3' as you can see in the above output of 'fdisk -l'. Unfortunately, that partition cannot be seen in Windows. It sees the drive as a RAW partition, as you can see in this picture (see partition E:).


What I tried is formatting the drive in Windows, but that also formats the other partitions.

Does anybody know how this can happen? And what can I do to have a partition that can be seen in Windows and Ubuntu?

  • Windows because of License limits to one computer will not install to external drives. Also Windows only installs to NTFS, not FAT32. Back with early XP would it work with FAT32.
    – oldfred
    Sep 18, 2016 at 21:30
  • Seems like a windows related problem to me.
    – Rinzwind
    Sep 19, 2016 at 7:17
  • I should have mentioned; I also tried creating an NTFS partition, unfortunally that won't work either. @olfred, I'm not installing Windows here. I have one partition on a USB disk that I created with Ubuntu, and I would like that partition to be seen on Windows and Ubuntu.
    – Sjosz
    Sep 19, 2016 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


This is a Windows issue, not an Ubuntu one. Nevertheless the reason is simple: Windows cannot see past the first partition on USB drives.

Here's how to do it correctly:

  • backup the drive and erase it
  • create a first partition (it doesn't need to be "on the left" of the drive, it just needs to be the first you create)
  • format it as exFAT, NTFS or other convenient file system
  • add the other Linux-only partitions

In this way, you get an advantage: Windows won't see the Linux partitions at all. I did this on a live USB key that needed a Windows part and it worked perfectly.

  • Thanks for your answer, it was indeed the same problem; Windows cannot see past the first partition on USB drives. Because I didn't like reinstalling my Ubuntu, I changed the partition numbers using unix.stackexchange.com/questions/18752/… . It works perfectly now!
    – Sjosz
    Sep 23, 2016 at 16:42

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