How to Format and Mount External Hard Drive on Raspberry Pi

Format as Btrfs and Mount USB External HDD on Raspberry Pi

Use your external hard drive formatted to Btrfs for your Raspberry Pi.

Select HDD

  1. Find your external HDD. It mostly starts at /dev/sd.
    sudo fdisk -l
  2. Enter fdisk for formatting by selecting your external HDD. For this example, we choose /dev/sda.
    sudo fdisk /dev/sda


  1. Create a new empty GPT partition table. g
  2. Create partition. n
  3. Select partition number. 1
  4. Select the first sector. The default shown is best so that the partition is aligned properly, so just enter it.
  5. Select the last sector. The default shown is the last sector, so just enter it.
  6. When asked to remove the filesystem signature, enter yes. y
  7. Write changes to disk. This will delete all data on the external HDD. w

Btrfs format

  1. Format external HDD to Btrfs with label Raspberry-Pi-HDD, label is there for easier mounting. Also use xxHash for checksumming.
    sudo mkfs.btrfs --csum xxhash -L Raspberry-Pi-HDD /dev/sda1

You can change label at any time by using this command:
sudo btrfs filesystem label /dev/sda1 Raspberry-Pi-HDD


  1. Create a mount point on /mnt folder.
    sudo mkdir /mnt/HDD
  2. Mount external HDD.
    sudo mount /dev/disk/by-label/Raspberry-Pi-HDD /mnt/HDD
  3. Own the external HDD. By default, it is owned by root.
    sudo chown -R $USER:$USER /mnt/HDD

Now every time you reboot your Raspberry Pi, you can mount it again using:
sudo mount /dev/disk/by-label/Raspberry-Pi-HDD /mnt/HDD


For automatic mount upon reboot, add this line on your /etc/fstab by using sudo nano /etc/fstab. Be careful with this file as it can easily cause your system not to boot.

LABEL=Raspberry-Pi-HDD /mnt/HDD btrfs nofail,x-systemd.device-timeout=5s 0 0

Nofail so that system will not error if the external HDD is disconnected upon boot, and systemd.device-timeout so that system will not wait 90 seconds for the device to appear if disconnected, only 5 seconds.

By Shawn M.
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