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Does FAT32 handle FAT16 drives

ozphil asked
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2013-12-28
I have two physical hard drives and an extended partition on one of the drives, so the drives are C:,D: and E:

They were all FAT16 drives, and I just installed win98 in C: and converted to FAT32 using PartitionMagic.

I left the other partitions at FAT16.

Everything worked OK for a few days, but suddenly I could not access the D: drive FAT16 drive from explorer - the computer hung for a minute or two.

I can access the extended FAT16 partiton in drive E: without any problems.

What has happened to my D: drive? Can it be fixed?
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Are you able to access D drive from My Computer or from dos prompt. Kindly let me know.

Does the Bios see the Drive.  Since D: is the second physical drive the Bios should see it.  If not check all cables and power connections.  From a dos promt type fdisk > then choose option 5 (chang current drive or something like that:).  Let me know what fdisk says.  If fdisk doesn't see the drive or the Bios doesn't and all cables and jumpers are seated then the drive might have gone bad.

Let me know if this helps and I'll repost this as an answer.


Take a look at
MS-DOS Partitioning Summary



Thanks for your responses.

I tried to access from C: prompt. I did a dir, the drive struggled and after 10 seconds displayed the C: root directy. Then it froze dead.

I rebooted to DOS, did a Fdisk on D: drive and the drive mad some noises and froze.

A hard drive has never physically failed on me in 20 years of operating quite a number of them.

Then I install win98 and my Hard drive is physically destroyed shortly afterwards. What is one to think?

Ive just turned off the the unsolicited Power Management Hard disk power off feature which win98 provided. Is it possible the Power Management of the Connor CFS850A (850Mb) has caused its physical failure?

I am still working on this.

Ive removed the drive and will look later whether the BIOS will auto report the drive parameters.

Meanwhile I have some data restoration work to do.

I'll leave the question open for interest and comment but so far Harleys answer has supplied diagnostic guides.

I'm very concerned about this happening after a win98 installation.

Hard drives just sometime go bad.  It's not usualy due to software installation.  when your happy let me know and I'll repost my comment as an answer.  Is there any other assistance need if so let me know and I'll try to help :)


I'd say it's a Fat16/fat32 mismatch.
MS-DOS Partitioning Summary



I looked at the MS article Bud bud didnt help.

I've removed all drives, made the damaged drive master, and the BIOS will not autoconfigure it at all. So i guess that means its physically stuffed.

I dont know how it happened. I have had it sitting in a mobile rack cradle so that it is removable, although I have never removed it.

Well I wont be touching Connor drives, i'll stick with Western Digitals.

Do you know if Power Management function can damage older drives not suited to it.

Harley, could you submit your initial answer in a week's time. Thanks.

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I've never heard of that, APM hurting.
I just bought 2 WD 8.4 Gig's for $210.00 apice.
If you want this deal call
WESTERN DIGITAL                800-832-4778
8.4GIG CAVIAR 8400RTL [MODEL is WDAC38400]
You do need EZDRIVE WITH 98 so I'd leave it alone. but if you do decide[ please don't] make sure they send you VERSION 9.06 AND THE PINNING MANUAL FOR THAT DRIVE.

These babies are FAST!!!!!:::::)))))))

I use them for backup instead of jazz or tape.


I was just reading through the history of the question and noticed that you had a hard drive fail just shortly after installing Win 98, and I think that your theory about the power management is correct but only on older drives.  I just installed Win 98 on a 2 year old pentium 133 and just one day after installing win 98 the hard drive failed, but I have had no previous problems with this drive,  I just ordered a new Seagate hard drive and I will post a follow up after I get it installed.  

So as I see it windows 98 causes problems with older hard drives that are not designed to handle the power management.

I'm curious......
Is the extended partition (E:) on the 2nd physical hard drive (D:)?
If it is, I don't think the drive is bad.......   Just the partition info.
Did you use the new FDISK?  
It is important to use the new version of FDISK for handling drive configuration.  Older versions (Pre-Win95B) won't access the partitions properly.
Also, be sure to re-boot after partitioning a drive. (BEFORE formatting it)
Before trashing the drive, I'd try FDISK again, and make that MS-Dos partition active.


Thanks a million Potsy.

The drive which failed is 2 1/2 years old, i suppose thats an 'older drive'. I also deduced that older drives couldnt handle Power Management - that was the only difference between what I had before and after win98. WIn 98 installs powere managament without apparent regard to whether the drive may be damaged by it.

The Western Digital drive that was also in the computer did not suffer, and it's older than the Connor, so it comes down to the particular drive.

I think i'll alert Microsoft to this. At least bring it to their notice.

Rmarotta. The drive is stuffed. The BIOS cannot not read it, FDISK ( may 98 ) cannot read it, and it intermitently grinds grinds.

My experience is identical to Potsy's - a perfectly good drive suddenly mechanical or electroncally damaged after a few APM experiences. We can only surmise it's the APM.

Smeebud, why wouldn't APM hurt. Doesn't the equipment have to be APM compatible otherwise damage may occur - I remember seeing this statement sometime ago.

In conclusion:
'Win98 physically destroys Hard Drives'. All agree?


Potsy. What's the make and model of your drive. Was it in a removable mobile rack?

I've issued a win98 bug report to Microsoft with a URL reference to this page, so i'll be leaving it in the 'answered question' state for a couple of weeks until they have sighted it.

After that i'll create a copy of this page and put it on my own website.


Power Management of Hard Disk drive was disabled in BIOS Power Management - I just checked it.

That apparently didn't stop win98 from applying it's own brand of HDD power management.

Out of curiosity, I have just enabled win98 HDD power management, and rebooted the PC to access the BIOS setup and see it the HDD power mangement was altered. It wasn't, it's still showing disabled even though win98 is now setuo to shut down the HDD after a user specified period.

Can you understand what is going on? I'm certainly confused.

I don't know what your problem might be, but perhaps this info helps you.

On my pc, I have 3 hd. disk 1 has the C: and D: drive, and E: and F: are on disk 2 and 3.
C: is FAT16, and then rest are FAT32.
Win98 and an old dos are installed on C:
I have no problems with this setup.
When I boot the old dos, I can only see C:   (I only has this option in case of any problems I might get with old programs in the future)
In Win98 I can use all the drives (Both in normal Win98 and in Command prompt only).
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