FAT32 Across the Board

Posted on 2004-09-09
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
Hi all,

Computer hobbyist, no formal computer training, DIYist always in learning mode.
Have 4 computers, W98, W98SE, and two with XPSR1 with following disk drive info:
W98 and SE all FAT32 which I understand is standard.

XP#1 60GB HD
  Dellutility 31MB Primary FAT
  Local disk C 10GB Primary NTFS
  Unallocated 47GB
  Processor 2 gigahertz Intel Pentium 4, 256 Megabytes Installed Memory

XP#2 120GB HD
  Local disc C 10GB Primary FAT 32
  Unallocated 64GB
  Extended 40GB Primary FAT32
  Second HD 160GB recognized in BIOS and Device Manager, but all unallocated.
  Processor 3.2 gigahertz Intel Pentium 4, 512 M installed memory

All file systems are as initially bundled OEM installations.

Question:  If not foolish, I want all the above to be FAT32.  Not overly concerned with security, as can be seen there is little file activity and I have fairly standard security software installed.  Primary activity is the fun of dickering with software and computer technology.  Can I end up with FAT32 across the board?  If so, this will require some converting from NTFS to FAT32, which I understand is a one way step, essentially, no turning back, and, as I have been reading about this stuff, there seems to be some problem in formatting a "large" disk to FAT32, and even formatting a 160GB HD, period, without some extra steps.

The essential question is can I do it, and peripherally any advice anyone can see as pitfalls, and possible a good link or two.  I have searched google under "fat32 vs ntfs" and found more than I could absorb, but never an answer to these particular questions in a neat package.

Thanks for any advice


Question by:del86
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Assisted Solution

by:Pete Long
Pete Long earned 200 total points
ID: 12020064
I think the question is can i have FAT32 on the XP box? the anser is yes - BUT if you want to convert NTFS to FAT then you need to buy software to do it (partition magic 8 will do this)

M$ provides a simple way to convert FAT to NTFS but not backwards :)

I cant think why you would want to do this though? you can still network the PC's and provided you set them up correctly they can share files.

the only problem with FAT and NTFS arises when they are ON THE SAME PC cause win9x cant read NTFS patitions (unless its over a network)
LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 12020078
when you fresh install windows XP it gives you the option of formatting as either FAT32 or NTFS
LVL 69

Expert Comment

ID: 12020377
FAT32 will have a 4GB file limitation, which may seem like a lot, but isn't, especially if you deal with video files.  It also has troubles with disk drives over 137GB.
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Author Comment

ID: 12020546
I already have FAT on an XP box on the XP#2 and I don't have the XP install disk, only the Recovery Disk and have PM 8 on both XP computers.  I know that I don't want to use the Recovery Disk, will not network the computers at this time and use Drive Image for backup.  Want the second hard drive on XP#2 for Drive Image backup, among other things, but what happens if I put a FAT32 image on a NTFS disk?  Can I recover it as a FAT32 image on the main C drive?

 XP seems to allow formatting of the second HD only in NTFS.  Can I later convert to FAT32  with PM8, it would seem so.

A reminder, i'm no wizbanger at this stuff.

Assisted Solution

opsrcs earned 100 total points
ID: 12020752
Not sure why you would want the HDs to be FAT32 to begin with.  The cluster size is bigger and less efiicient.

Test you can do:

Format 1HD was FAT32. record the bytes free.  Create a file in notepad with no text in it, just give it a name.  Record bytes free

Format the above HD again this time in NTFS and do the same steps.  You will have more space using NTFS partition.

FAT = awful = terrrible efficiency
FAT32 = better than FAT = Mediocre efficiency
NTFS = best to date = better efficiency
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Accepted Solution

Callandor earned 200 total points
ID: 12021214
When you restore an image that you saved, it doesn't matter what the current setting is, because it will all be overwritten by the image.  The target format does not affect the restored image.  PM8 allows the conversion from NTFS to FAT32.

Author Comment

ID: 12021833

"the only problem with FAT and NTFS arises when they are ON THE SAME PC cause win9x cant read NTFS patitions (unless its over a network)"

Believe I read that W98 can't read NTFS, but XP in FAT32 can.  I do not have more than one OS per computer and would not envision doing so but can't rule it out.


All have been helpful and I think NTFS is the way to go.  Thanks for your input.

I have to figure out how to do this, but I plan to split the points thusly:
PeterLong 200
Callandor 200
opsrcs     100

LVL 57

Expert Comment

by:Pete Long
ID: 12028362

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