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Win2K on FAT, best way to make FAT32?

Posted on 2000-04-21
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Last Modified: 2010-05-18
Sparing the details of the events leading up to it...

I installed Windows 2000 Professional to a 20 GB drive that was already used as a secondary drive in  Win98 system, and partitioned as follows:

 2 GB FAT
 4 GB FAT32
12 GB FAT32
 2 GB FAT32

The installation of Win98 on the other drive (10GB, now the 2nd drive in the system) was toasted somehow in the process of upgrading some hardware, and so I never did fix it since I wanted to use Win2K anyways.

I could not boot off the CD-ROM for some reason, and the 4 boot floppies didn't work either (now, in hindsight, I think it was due to the UDMA/66 controller) so I had to do this to install Win2K:

Make the firstpartition a 2GB FAT16
Install DOS 6.22
Add CD-ROM drivers and a 32MB (the limit!) smartdrv cache ;)
Start Win2K setup & install

Well this all worked out eventually...and my plan was to convert the FAT16 to a FAT32 to regain all the wasted space going from 32K to 4K clusters.

The reason I chose to go with all FAT32 is because I may reinstall Win98 on the 2nd drive and boot that up when the rare necessity comes along, so I'd need to have support to read all the partitions.  And since this is used as a personal machine and in a "secure" environment I'm not worried about the lack of filesystem security.

Anyway, I figured that since Win2K had support for all the filesystems, it would have a converter for both FAT16->NTFS and FAT16->FAT32.  Well, the convert.exe only converts to NTFS from either FAT16 or FAT32.

After doing a bit of research, I found out that M$ intentionally did not provide an easy path to convert FAT16->FAT32.  In fact they specifically state this in KB article Q197627 :)

So my question (finally) is what is the SAFE way to convert this partition to FAT32?  I do not want to render it unbootable as I depend heavily on the ability to use my computer for just about everything.

I have Partition Magic 4.01, which doesn't support Win2K.  I know they just released a patch for 5.0 -> 5.01 to support it.  Would it be safe to convert the system partition with that?  I've had PM fail on me before...lost an NT 4.0 setup to it once even.

If anyone has actually done this, please let me know the exact steps you took.

Points are awarded when I boot the system up on the FAT32 filesystem :)

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Question by:drcheap
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by:MnNCOMM
ID: 2738792
Is your motherboard suppose to have the option to boot from a CD-ROM? If so, make sure it is the FIRST choice till your done with setup. CD-ROM-Floppy-Hard Drive.

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
"I could not boot off the CD-ROM for some reason, and the 4 boot floppies didn't work either (now, in hindsight, I think it was due to the UDMA/66 controller) so I had to do this to install Win2K:"
<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

Then you have a problem somewhere that needs to be fixed. Or did it work after you reinstalled W2K?

Use the W98 CD get your machine to boot to a CD-ROM Install 98 (which you said you were going to do anyways) and it WILL be FAT32. You do NOT necessarily have to install W98, the first step of the process it to format the disk, then just cancel installation.

Now it will be a FAT 32 Boot drive with nothing on it.



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by:compmania
ID: 2739140
Try running this program, if you change it to Fat32 and change the size of the partition you will have a fat32 drive (you do not need to change the size to have it run in fat32)

http://www.users.intercom.com/~ranish/part/
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by:pjknibbs
ID: 2739492
To be honest you should be able to use the Windows 98 FAT16->FAT32 converter on the drive, because there's no actual difference between a FAT32 partition whichever operating system created it. (If it had been a >2Gb FAT16 partition you'd have been in trouble, but this obviously isn't the case). Provided there's enough free disk space to perform the conversion you won't lose any data.
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by:drcheap
ID: 2739616
MnMCOMM...I think you missed the point... I already have win2k installed and running fine onto the partition, I just want to make it FAT32 so that I have less wasted space.

compmania...I would much sooner trust a well known and respected software such as Partition Magic than something written by an unknown individual.

pjknibbs...a >2gb fat16?  that isn't possible :)
Anyway, the issue is that I do not have the win98 converter, and don't know if that runs under win2k or if that would even be safe if it did.


Mainly what I want to know is whether or not it would be safe to use something like partition magic to convert it.  In otherwords, if I just run PM, say convert C: from FAT16 to FAT32, it reboots and does the conversion...then when it reboots again is it going to boot?  Or will windows 2000 puke because "things have changed" on the system boot partition?

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pjknibbs earned 150 total points
ID: 2739672
Actually, you can have a FAT16 partition up to 4Gb if you create it using Windows NT Setup--I suppose Win2K probably has the same facility, although why you'd want to use it is another matter.

As for Win2K choking because the boot drive has changed--it won't. So long as the Win2K loader stub (NTLDR) can find what it needs to boot the system it'll be happy, and it can do this with equal facility under FAT16, FAT32 or NTFS5. Even if Partition Magic decides to overwrite the boot block when it does its thing--I've never used it, so I don't know if it will--all you have to do is re-run Win2K setup and select Repair an Existing Installation to solve the problem.
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by:drcheap
ID: 2739748
Well I had mentioned that I had installed DOS 6.22 to this partition...so the 64K cluster idea was out of the picture :)

Anyway, I will try using Partition Magic and see how it goes.  You can re-post your solution as a proposed answer and I'll accept it after it's done.

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by:pjknibbs
ID: 2739929
drcheap: You can accept a comment as a full-blown answer--there's a little button next to each comment allowing you to do this.
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by:christalnet
ID: 2740255
powerquest par 5.0 with the patch will work fine im using a similar set up as a class project now.
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by:Nanos
ID: 2784559
JINX! I have/had the same problem!
I had fat32 all over, and wanted WinNT. it doesn't operate on fat32 so I de-converted everything back to fat16, and tried to continue! NOW it puked on me due to something with the MBR and bootstrap loader, and that was with FAT16.. the reason was "using a 3rd party utility to partition my HDD" as explained by MS!
I got win2kpro, and it worked fine with THAT problem! However, right now I'm waiting for a solution to convert back to FAT32.
1) converter can be found on the win98 CD. (I THINK)
  control panel>>add/remove progs>> windows components>>system tools.
2) if u have the guts to go ahead and try email me at islamomt@bigfoot.com
 (I DON'T HAVE THE GUTS)

GOOD LUCK!
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by:drcheap
ID: 2784963
For other reasons I needed to get the Win98 drive working again and so I had made the 10gb my boot device and did a win98 reinstall on that.  Unfortunately I wasn't thinking and did not unplug the 20gb drive (as that is the only way to ensure win2k isn't messed with).

Well, I managed to kill the boot record on the 20gb drive and after I had the win98 drive fixed up I was left with the 20gb drive telling me it couldn't find NTDLR.

After a few hours of trying all the tricks in the boot to restore that I didn't have any luck.  Then, I figured out a way, by accident, to fix it!

I used an old DOS 6.22 disk to boot up, then ran SYS C: to make the 20gb bootable...great now I have a drive that boots, but it boots DOS :)

So then I tried to run the win2k setup to select the repair option and have it fix up the boot record and then move on with life.  Well it didn't have such an option, at least not running winnt.exe from the CDROM.  I could not use the 4 install floppies as they have never worked, which I think is somethig to do with the U66 controller drivers (which I even tried putting on it).

Anyway, once setup started "copying files" I freaked and didn't want to lose all my current stuff since I knew it was just a boot record problem.  I slapped the reset button as that was the only way to stop the process.

I was pleasantly surprised when the system booted up to find out that setup had already re-written the Win2K boot record to the drive before copying files over.  How convenient!  I picked my usual boot.ini menu setting and it was like nothing was a big deal anyway.  Then I got rid of the setup residue and went on with life.


So why have I just written this unrelated novel here?  To say that I am going to leave my boot drive as a FAT16 filesystem because if it weren't as such I would have NEVER been able to get my boot record screw up fixed.

There is beauty in old technology...long live DOS :)


P.S. Still giving points to pknibbs since that was the best answer and probably would work were I to go through with it.
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