Is it necessary to create a "partitioning standard" for a usb, usb card-reader, or hard drive?

What benefit does it offer?

I created a partitioning standard for my usb card-reader and ran into difficulties and eventually had to change from 'gpt' to 'msdos', though it is for use solely on linux.

I imagine if I do not create a partitioning standard, the micro-sd in the usb reader is likely set to msdos by default. In the past when I formatted it to 'ext4', the sd didn't allow me to add files to it in linux os; maybe this is why.

UPDATE: I read the following info, which is what led to this question, in addition to what I wrote above.

"Partition the new drive. We'll create a single partition using entire disk. CHOOSE A PARTITIONING STANDARD: To do this, we first need to specify the partitioning standard to use. GPT is the more modern partitioning standard, while the MBR standard offers wider support among operating systems. If you do not have any special requirements, it is probably better to use GPT at this point. To choose the GPT standard, do: "sudo parted /dev/sda mklabel gpt"; To choose msdos: "sudo parted /dev/sda mklabel msdos"

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    What is a partitioning standard?l Commented Aug 20, 2019 at 17:22
  • But that's not something you create, you just choose and use either GPT or MBR. I have no idea whether windows or OS X supports GPT, but for removable media you'll rarely need the features GPT offers over MBR, so for potential compatibility I would choose MBR for those, but as Emmanuels answer explains you don't need to. Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 6:31

1 Answer 1


In short, no.

If a device only needs to have one filesystem, Linux doesn't care whether the filesystem occupies the entire storage device or a partition on the device. For example, it's acceptable to mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdb; Linux can mount such a filesystem; Certainly from the command line.

BUT... be very careful with this. Not having a partition table may prevent some tools from functioning properly. For example, without a partition table, it's possible that some partitioning tools may get confused, thus upon not finding a partition table will assume the device consists entirely of unallocated space.

As for benefits of partitioning, it allows one to place more than one filesystem on a storage device. While this functionality may not be commonly needed with external storage devices, such as USB flash drives, in my experience having partitions helps to maintain compatibility with various OS's.

Practically speaking, unless partitioning is not recommended for a specific use-case, it's best to simply partition storage devices.

  • Thanks. It's not about having a partition on the device. The following stack article explains it best. The only thing I have done in the past is create a partition and format it. But this is different... "unix.stackexchange.com/questions/289389/…" Stephen Kitt gives best answer. I only want 1 partition anyway, if that helps. When I create a partition, doesn't that automatically create a partition table? The format will be ext4, with many word docs created from FAT previously - transferred over to the new drive. Thx.
    – veagle88
    Commented Aug 22, 2019 at 1:19

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