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How to restore USB drive after making it bootable?

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  • 3 min read

USB drives have replaced CDs and DVDs to become the default choice for bootable media to install OSs because of the obvious advantages they offer over its predecessors. USBs are easier to work with, faster, more reliable and overall less of a headache.

However, once you’ve installed that super cool OS on your system, what are you going to do with that USB drive of yours? Now sure you could just keep it in case you need to make multiple installs or as a bootable drive for the future, but what if you want to restore it for everyday use?

The first thing that comes to mind is formatting, right? Well, that would work, but, it wouldn’t give you back the whole drive. You’ll get a partition of the drive back, that too the one your current OS can detect. These partitions can be anywhere between KBs to a couple of hundred MBs.

Does that mean your perfectly fine 16GB flash drive is of no use? Well, not really.

Also read: What does the ‘Defragment and Optimize drive’ app on Windows really do?

How to restore your flash drive?

For this operation, we’ll be using a command prompt utility called DiskPart — considering, of course, you use Windows. If you’re a Linux person, you most probably already know what I’m talking about and Mac people, well, my apologies.

Step 1: Open the command prompt and type diskpart. A dialogue box will pop up asking for permission, be sure to click on yes.

How to restore USB drive to full capacity after making it bootable?

Step 2: Type in list disk. This command will list out all the connected disk drives. Find out which one is your flash drive.

How to restore USB drive to full capacity after making it bootable?

Step 3: Type in select disk followed by the disk number.

Step 4: Type in clean. This command cleans the disk off of any partitions whatsoever.

Step 5: Type in create partition primary. This command creates a primary partition which takes up the entire capacity of the flash drive.

How to restore USB drive to full capacity after making it bootable?

Step 6: Go and format the drive as you would from the file manager, and you’ll have your drive back.

Keep in mind though that as a flash drive goes through this cycle over and over again, it tends to lose out on data transfer speed and reliability.

Also read: Hard Disk Drives (HDD) vs Solid State Drives (SSD)

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah Abidi

Yadullah is a Computer Science graduate who writes/edits/shoots/codes all things cybersecurity, gaming, and tech hardware. When he's not, he streams himself racing virtual cars. He's been writing and reporting on tech and cybersecurity with websites like Candid.Technology and MakeUseOf since 2018. You can contact him here: