Can a Hard Drive be formatted by USB, or...???

Posted on 2007-11-16
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-03
I need to format a 160GB notebook hard drive to put into a special USB enclosure that has the ability to transfer data from Flash memory to the drive.  I don't have ready access to a desktop PC which I could use a normal IDE connection to format the drive.  I have a number of USB 2.0 enclosures, but don't know how.  This drive needs to be formatted in FAT32 so it can be read by MACs as well as PCs.
Question by:gzembow
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Accepted Solution

PUNKY earned 672 total points
ID: 20303570
You can always put the drive into usb enclosure and use any PC available to format it.
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Assisted Solution

rindi earned 664 total points
ID: 20303576
There's no problem formatting drives attached via USB to fat32. If the Host OS you are formatting from is XP, then you'll only be able to make fat32 partitions of max 32GB Size, so then you'd require a 3rd party utility like Acronis Disk Director Suite to make larger partitions. Don't forget that if you use fat32 you will be limited to filesizes not larger than 4GB.

Author Comment

ID: 20303713
Thanks to both of you for your fast posts.  While my computers are PCs running XP, I have access to a MAC running OSX 10.4 - does that have the option of creating the partition correctly so the drive is readable to MACs and PCs?  I don't have Acronis Disk Director, but do have Acronis True Image.  Does that work as well?  Or are there any freeware utilities that do the same thing? Is there any other options?

Are the steps to use USB to format the drive as simple as connecting the new blank drive and plugging it into a USB port and then use the Disk Management (Administrative) Tool to format it?
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Expert Comment

ID: 20303810
I don't think true image can partition and format a disk.

I don't know OSX enough to be sure, but I think you should be able to format a disk with fat32 with it. Maybe you need a 3rd party tool for it.

You could also try using bootit-ng to format the USB drive. It boots from CD or floppy, and the trial version has all functions enabled. When it asks if you want to install it say no (Press ESC), then select partition work and chek if the USB drive is seen. If not, go back to settings and enable USB2 mode, then return to partition work, and now select the USB drive and use create to create the partition and format it to fat32.

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Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 664 total points
ID: 20304339
MacOS can format FAT32 but I'm almost positive it CANNOT format NTFS.  For information on formatting FAT32, see:

(Note: the instructions in the link are for creating TWO partitions, one Mac, one FAT32.  Just don't create the Mac and make it one large FAT32 partition).


Author Comment

ID: 20304389
I will try those options and post the results.  But to simplify which format to use, which format do all the commercially available external drives sold by Maxtor, Western Digital, SimpleTech and the others use that can be accessed by MACs and PCs?  FAT32?
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Expert Comment

ID: 20304400
They'd have to use fat32. NTFS can only be used by windows based on NT. Other OS's often only have reading support at the most (Linux can meanwhile also write to ntfs, but it isn't recommended for use). The only other filesystem that m$ can use is fat...

Expert Comment

ID: 20521428
Forced accept.

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