View Full Version : Can you make a HDD look like a flash drive?

24-11-2006, 09:00 PM
Hi all,

Just wondering if anyone knows if there's a way of making an external IDE HDD ''appear" (to a computer) as a flash drive? I have some equipment that will read data from thumb drives but not from an external HDD.

Tried both NTFS and FAT32 formatting on the HDD so far (can't work out how to format the drive as FAT16, but due to the 2GB partition limit I don't think this will help anyway). Is there a special kind of format used for flash drives?


24-11-2006, 09:41 PM
As far as I know, pen drives are normally formated in FAT32. But his is only since this is a fairly universal file systrem able to be read by most OSs. You can format a pen drive in whatever you want I think - but I have not tried. Even though I am a Linux user, USB drives stay in FAT32.

24-11-2006, 09:49 PM
You need an external USB case which you should put the hard drive in (you cannot boot normally from an external drive though). Format the hard drive in FAT32. If that fails, try formatting it in FAT16 (this will limit the size to 4GB).

For realistic flash drive integrity problems, you can try hitting the hard drive with a hammer after writing to it a few thousand times.

24-11-2006, 09:54 PM
FAT16 (this will limit the size to 4GB).

FAT16 max partition size is 2.1Gbytes

25-11-2006, 12:19 PM
FAT16 max partition size is 2.1Gbytes

Ah, so it is! My mistake.

26-11-2006, 03:35 PM
Yeah sorry I should explain this a bit better. I have an external HDD (in a USB case) that I'm tying to get to work with a home theatre receiver. The receiver seems to 'see' MP3 files etc on flash drives but not on the HDD.
I've noticed that if you connect a flash drive to a PC it appears as a 'removable disk' formatted as 'FAT'. If you connect an external HDD it appears as a 'Hard Disc Drive' in My Computer and formatted as 'FAT32'.
I've only been able to experiment with 128MB and 512MB Flash drives so I have to assume they could be FAT16 but someone might be able to confirm that even 2GB or larger flash drives appear as Removable Storage in My Computer?
Thanks for all your help so far!

26-11-2006, 03:47 PM
Try formatting it with FAT16 instead of FAT32. I'm not sure how to do this on Windows. The home theatre probably only supports the FAT16 format (many portable media players are the same). You will be able to use only 2.1GB of space on the hard drive though.

Speedy Gonzales
26-11-2006, 03:51 PM
Most usb flash drives are detected as usb mass storage devices.

Even the digital cam here is detected as a mass storage device.

And the 1GB Sandisk flash drive here gets detected as a removable storage in my computer. And is in FAT format.

26-11-2006, 05:39 PM
Yeah that's the weird thing. I assume that all camera memory cards and thumb drives (regardless of if they are bigger than 2GB) so basically what I'm asking is "can you make an external HDD appear as a USB Mass storage device?"

Billy T
26-11-2006, 06:04 PM
I have a 40GB HDD in an external case, partitioned into 3 drives, formatted FAT32 and connected via a USB 2.00 interface. It is recognised by W2K as an external USB device in exactly the same way as my digital camera or my flash drive.

Can't tell you more than that, it just set up that way from the get-go but clearly it should be possible to do what you want.


Billy 8-{)

26-11-2006, 07:04 PM
Ok, bit more looking into this and it doesn't appear that (at least with the hardware I've used) this is possible. Apparently Windows must recognise a difference between a 'removable' disk (flash drive) and HDD as no paging data is written to a removable disk. This means that when vendors create external HDD housings, in order to conform to USB specifications for USB booting etc, they must report themselves as a HDD (regardless of the formatting of data). I've got 2 different HDD enclosures which both work the same way.


It seems that this is what's causing my issue - although I'd be interested to see how wide this problem is. If anyone has other consumer electronics equipment with a USB interface (Sony and Philips TVs, Pioneer DVD recorders, JVC car audio etc) it might be interesting to experiment and see if they work with external HDDs or just flash memory...

27-11-2006, 06:56 PM
All USB connected drives will be USB mass storage devices (except for old, weird ones). Your problem is almost certainly that the media system supports only FAT16 and not FAT32. There is no reason why this media centre should be designed to care what type of mass storage device you connect.

27-11-2006, 07:43 PM
I know that all external HDD cases that are USB are not created equal. I am a Linux user with quitre an old DSE external USB1 case that works fine with Linux. I was under the impression that (like most devices), all external USB cases would use block USB - I purchased a modern case that refused to work with Fedora Core 5 (presumably since it used a proprietory interface).