Connecting external storage devices like USB drives is a common task for Linux users. However, you first need to mount the drive in order to access its files and folders.
Mounting a USB drive in Linux makes it accessible like any other folder on the system. Once mounted, you can seamlessly read, write, copy, move or delete files on that drive.
In this beginner’s guide, you will learn how to properly mount a USB drive on a Linux system using the command line.
What Does Mounting Mean in Linux?
The term “mounting” refers to making a disk partition or storage device accessible in Linux. Mounting associates the device with an empty directory known as the mount point. The contents of the mounted device then become available under this directory.
For example, you can mount a USB drive to the /media/usbdrive mount point. All files and folders on the USB drive will appear under /media/usbdrive once mounted.
Mounting is necessary to interact with external drives like USB flash drives, hard disks, CD/DVD discs etc. on a Linux system. Without mounting, the OS would not be able to access the drive.
Before mounting a USB drive, ensure you have the necessary permissions. Mounting devices is a privileged operation and usually requires superuser access.
To run mounting commands, either log in as the root user or use `sudo` to temporarily gain administrative privileges. For example:
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /media/usbdrive
This allows the normal user account to run the mount command by borrowing root privileges.
Steps to Mount a USB Drive in Linux
Follow these steps to mount a USB drive on Linux:
1. Plug in the USB Drive
Physically connect the USB drive to your computer. Most Linux distributions will automatically detect and list the device without requiring a reboot.
2. Verify the USB Device is Detected
Before mounting, you need to check that Linux has detected the USB drive.
Run `lsblk` or `lsusb` to list all storage drives and devices attached to your system. Look for your USB drive in the output.
For example, `lsblk` may show an entry like:
sdb 8:16 1 14.9G 0 disk
└─sdb1 8:17 1 14.9G 0 part
This indicates that the USB drive `sdb1` is listed and ready to use.
3. Create a Mount Point Folder
A mount point is an empty folder where the USB drive will be mounted. You can create one anywhere you like.
For example, to create a mount point named usbdrive under /media:
sudo mkdir /media/usbdrive
4. Mount the USB Drive
Use the `mount` command to mount the USB device to the mount point. Specify the USB drive name from lsblk and the mount folder path:
sudo mount /dev/sdb1 /media/usbdrive
This mounts the USB drive to /media/usbdrive.
5. Access USB Drive Files
Once successfully mounted, the files and folders on the USB drive will be available under the mount point path.
Navigate to the /media/usbdrive folder and you can now view, edit, copy or delete files as desired.
#List files on USB drive
cp file.txt /home/user/
#Copy file to home folder
This allows seamless access to the USB drive just like working with directories on your Linux system.
(Optional) Mount USB at Boot
To mount the USB drive automatically at system startup, you need to add it to the /etc/fstab file.
Get the UUID of the USB drive partition using `blkid`:
/dev/sdb1: UUID=”1b410e8d-f177-4060-adb1-d40596d87612″ TYPE=”ext4″ PARTUUID=”002e2408-01″
Then add this entry to /etc/fstab:
UUID=1b410e8d-f177-4060-adb1-d40596d87612 /media/usbdrive ext4 defaults 0 0
Now the USB drive will mount under /media/usbdrive on every system boot.
Troubleshooting USB Mounting Issues
Sometimes a USB drive may fail to mount or have issues. Here are some troubleshooting tips:
- Check `lsblk` again to verify the USB device is listed and has not already been mounted.
- Manually try to mount using `mount` – any errors will be displayed.
- See if the drive is formatted with a supported file system like FAT32, NTFS, EXT4 etc. Linux may not be able to mount unsupported formats.
- Run `fsck` to check and repair any file system corruption on the USB drive.
- Try mounting as root or sudo if you get “permission denied” errors as a normal user.
- Plug the USB drive into a different port and check if it is detected properly.
- Look at dmesg output for any helpful error messages related to the USB drive.
- Search online Linux forums with the exact mounting error for troubleshooting tips.
Following the basic troubleshooting steps should help identify and resolve any USB mounting problems.
Unmounting a USB Drive
It is important to properly unmount the USB drive once you finish working with it.
Do not just remove the physical USB device – this could lead to data loss or corruption.
To safely unmount, use the `umount` command:
sudo umount /media/usbdrive
This will detach the USB device from the file system before removal.
Always remember to unmount any mounted drives before disconnecting them.
Additional Tips for USB Drives
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when working with USB drives on Linux:
- Many Linux desktop environments like GNOME will automatically mount inserted USB drives. In that case, manual mounting may not be needed.
- If your USB drive is encrypted or has partitions, the steps may vary. You may need to decrypt or specify the partition before mounting.
- You can enable NFS or Samba file sharing to network-mount the USB drive and access its files across computers.
- Make sure to regularly backup important data from the USB drive as physical drives can fail over time.
- When dealing with sensitive or confidential data, take steps to secure the USB drive with encryption and strong passwords.
Mounting USB drives properly is essential to use them on Linux systems. The key steps are – verify device detection, create a mount point, use the mount command to attach the drive to the file system, access data, and unmount before removal.
Following the examples in this beginner’s guide, you can easily mount USB drives from the Linux command line. Just plug in the drive, mount it, access files as needed and unmount when finished.
Jason Matthews is a highly regarded technology journalist and the esteemed editor of ThrustVector.com, a leading online platform dedicated to all things related to computers, USB keyboards, and other essential peripherals. With a profound passion for the intricacies of technology, Jason has spent years immersing himself in the ever-evolving world of computer hardware and peripherals.
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