Extra harddrive: changing NFTS to FAT32 formatting

  Jeecie 14:17 15 Jan 2006

Hi I am looking to buy a 2nd hand 80GB internal IDE drive off of ebay.

If it is NFTS formatted - how can I re:format it to be FAT32 instead please?

Thanks in advance to all/any help offered :)

  Fruit Bat /\0/\ 14:42 15 Jan 2006

Essentially, your options boil down to doing one of two things: reformatting the drive or partition (which results in the data being destroyed) or shelling out for a third-party program. Unfortunately, Windows does not have a built-in tool to convert backwards, like one can to convert from FAT/FAT32 to NTFS. Enter Partition Magic. Partition Magic allows you to convert an NTFS partition back to FAT32, but there is a reason that Partition Magic is not so lovingly referred to as "Partition Tragic". Often conversions simply fail, or worse, destroy data.

This guide is to walk you through the former method of conversion: deleting a partition, and recreating it anew as FAT32. However, no matter which route you choose, backing up your data should be your first priority.

First off, delete the partition that you wish to convert. This is done by going into Disk Management: right click "My Computer" -> Manage -> Disk Management, which is found under the Storage section. Right click the partition you wish to remove, and click "Delete Volume". This will erase the partition. Once you have done this, you must re-create the partition. This is done by right clicking on an unallocated region of a disk, and selecting "Create Partition". Then click "Create Logical Drive". Bear in mind that Windows cannot format a FAT32 partition that is any larger than 32GB. This is the case because FAT32 is terribly inefficient on volumes that are larger than 32GB: fragmentation becomes a serious problem.

To format this new volume, right click it, and choose Format. Again, if the volume you wish to format is larger than 32GB, FAT32 will not be one of the options available to you in the drop-down box. You will have to create multiple partitions if you want to format a large drive as FAT32.

  pj123 16:04 15 Jan 2006

Well the easiest way is to download the Win98SE bootdisk from click here

Change your BIOS to start from floppy first. Put the bootdisk and at the A: prompt type fdisk and press enter.

Now delete all partitions (including Non DOS) and then create a new partition(s). Once done reboot with the bootdisk still in and at the A: prompt type format C: press enter. If you made any other partitions format them as well.

Not sure where this 32gb limit comes from. I have an 80gb hard drive running on Win 98SE as FAT32 and have also added a second 120gb hard drive to the same computer as a slave. Using the above bootdisk and fdisking, partitioning and formatting each partition has caused no problems.

  pj123 16:11 15 Jan 2006

Sorry, meant to say also that you should disconnect your existing master drive and connect the secondhand (80gb) drive as master. Once it is formatted to your satisfaction you can reconnect your original drive as master and the other (80gb) as slave.

  Jeecie 23:41 15 Jan 2006

Fruit Bat /\0/\ - thanks I've got Partition Magic so I'll see if it works when the drive arrives (I did win the auction on eBay £27 for a 80GB HDD - £13 cheaper than one I bought last year from a shop, so I'm happy on cost at least).

pj123 - thanks I forgot to say that I'm running Windows XP Home Edition SP2 (upgraded last year from Win98SE) so perhaps your bootdisk idea won't work for me?

Thanks folks for the advice... I'll let you know how I get on and I will post back with the solution that works best for me so that anyone searching the database can benefit from the answer too.

  Jeecie 23:49 15 Jan 2006

Hi guys... I just had a root around the microsoft website and found this text re: the 32GB format limit in Win XP click here;EN-US;314463 (from the Article ID 314463: "Limitations of the FAT32 File System in Windows XP")

Quote... "You cannot format a volume larger than 32 gigabytes (GB) in size using the FAT32 file system during the Windows XP installation process. Windows XP can mount and support FAT32 volumes larger than 32 GB (subject to the other limits), but you cannot create a FAT32 volume larger than 32 GB by using the Format tool during Setup. If you need to format a volume that is larger than 32 GB, use the NTFS file system to format it. Another option is to start from a Microsoft Windows 98 or Microsoft Windows Millennium Edition (Me) Startup disk and use the Format tool included on the disk."... unquote

Just thought I'd post it here for anyone reading this thread who might be curious :)

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