I have a 2TB USB drive plugged into CentOS 5.5 that will be formatted with ext3 and will only be used for file-level backups.

I've always partitioned my drives but a while ago when I had setup Amazon EBS the docs said to just format the whole device (eg. mkfs /dev/sdf instead of /dev/sdf1) and ext3 would warn you but allow you to do so, which it did.

As I understand it, partitioning in this case will only be necessary if I want to boot from the USB drive which will not be happening and I really want to save those 512 bytes.

Skip or keep the single partition? Why?


  • 1
    "I really want to save those 512 bytes." :) – Matthew Flaschen Sep 15 '10 at 17:32
  • Normally I would get snarky about tolerances that tight, but today I'm curious. Why are those 512 bytes so critical? – Scott Pack Sep 15 '10 at 17:45
  • @packs I was being snarky myself about that :) I'm mainly curious if there's a fundamental piece to partitioning that I may have missed that I will later kick myself for. – Rob Olmos Sep 15 '10 at 18:41

Use a partition. One day, somebody needs a USB drive fast, take one from a box and think it is empty because there is not even a partition created and all your data is lost.. There will always be an OS which cannot handle filesystems without partitions on hard drives

Even if the chance of this is small, the price is even smaller ;)

  • 1
    Plus, many tools will automatically attempt to read a disk's partition table and automatically mount / notify you of what it finds or worse mislead the hapless admin into thinking a paritionless disk is empty. – Mark Wagner Sep 16 '10 at 7:00
  • I was thinking this partition-less (ie. unused) appearance would be a security benefit but I like the perspective of keeping other admins in mind. Thanks – Rob Olmos Nov 2 '10 at 5:02

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