Toolbox for mass storage

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If the speed tests show that the drive is not up to its full potential because of a misconfiguration, you can deal with this by modifying the partitions. You don't need any additional software to do so; Gnome Disks handles this quite well. Highlight the affected drive and the respective partition in the left pane. Clicking the gear button below it opens the Create Disk Image… and Restore Disk Image… menu items.

Before editing a partition, be sure to make an image copy first to eliminate any chance of data loss while modifying the data structure. The IMG file that contains the image is best saved in a folder on an external backup drive – to enable reconstruction in case of data loss.

Make configuration changes using primarily the Edit Partition Type… and Edit Mount Options… menu items. Pay particular attention when selecting a non-Linux filesystem when modifying the filesystem type for a heterogeneous environment. Other operating systems will recognize very few filesystems. If in doubt, FAT16 or FAT32 should prove the safest options.

The actual disk reformatting is done through the Format… menu item. In the resulting dialog, enter the desired filesystem and choose whether you want to have it encrypted with LUKS. You also have the option of overwriting the existing sectors with zeros. This step can slow down reformatting considerably, although it completely removes old data safely.

Please note, however, that this process is not suitable for modern SSD disks. In this case, the internal controller manages the data storage, and data cannot be reconstructed in the same way as with hard drives. You can use Gnome Disks, however, to reliably clean up existing mobile device storage if, for example, you want to sell it (Figure 5).

Figure 5: Gnome Disks isn't limited to one filesystem.


Gnome Disks lets you mount and unmount partitions on the fly and set the desired mount options. To unmount an already mounted filesystem, click the little square underneath the graphical drive bar. This disables the filesystem, which often involves some intensive work.

If, instead, you want a previously inactive partition to be mounted automatically at startup or to set up password authentication for it when mounting, you can make the necessary modifications graphically through the Edit Mount Options… menu item. You can also get to the function using the gear button directly below the graphical disk indicator. The tool opens a clear dialog where you make the desired settings but warns explicitly against any ill-advised modifications that could render a system unusable (Figure 6).

Figure 6: Mounting and unmounting is easily done in a graphical dialog.

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