Solved

FAT32 format for external drives

Posted on 2014-12-09
3
319 Views
Last Modified: 2014-12-09
My understanding of FAT32 partitions is that they are limited to 32 Gigabytes.

However ... on several occasions I have see 320-GB and 500-GB external hard drives formatted with FAT32 and the partitions are 320 and 500 GB respectively.

What are the actual limitations on FAT32?

can someone comment on this?

Scott
0
Comment
Question by:scottjnorris
[X]
Welcome to Experts Exchange

Add your voice to the tech community where 5M+ people just like you are talking about what matters.

  • Help others & share knowledge
  • Earn cash & points
  • Learn & ask questions
3 Comments
 
LVL 62

Accepted Solution

by:
☠ MASQ ☠ earned 167 total points
ID: 40490099
The 32 GB limit on volume size you'll see described only applies to the XP installer format tool which was deliberately limited by Microsoft to a 32GB volume limit in FAT32 to encourage users to switch to NTFS.  Other formatting tools can create large volumes with no problem (including for example the command line format tool in Windows 98SE). In terms of physical limits FAT32 can support a volume with up to 268,435,445 clusters so the usual quoted maximum theoretical volume size would be to make each cluster 32KB giving you about 8TB - (You could double that by making the clusters 64KB but at that size (16TB volumes)programming designed to calculated disk capacity will return unexpected results and you may see bizarre performance errors).  In practical terms you could get a FAT32 MBR volume up to 2.2TB but you are then looking at a far less efficient use of storage compared to using NTFS.

Is that the kind of thing you are looking for?
0
 
LVL 96

Assisted Solution

by:Lee W, MVP
Lee W, MVP earned 167 total points
ID: 40490172
The limits of FAT32 as well as NTFS and other versions of FAT can be referenced here:
http://www.ntfs.com/ntfs_vs_fat.htm

As stated, the OS can have issues (as in, some won't) formatting drives larger than 32GB, but the actual limit is 2TB or so.
0
 
LVL 88

Assisted Solution

by:rindi
rindi earned 166 total points
ID: 40490200
The biggest stumbling block or limit with Fat32 isn't the partition size, but rather that the maximum file-size is 4GB. So if you have files larger than 4GB you won't be able to store them on a Fat32 partition.

Another problem is that it doesn't do any transactional logging as ntfs does. That means that if there is a corruption, the files at that location are gone or unusable, while with ntfs you can often repair those with a chkdsk /f /r.
0

Featured Post

Migrating Your Company's PCs

To keep pace with competitors, businesses must keep employees productive, and that means providing them with the latest technology. This document provides the tips and tricks you need to help you migrate an outdated PC fleet to new desktops, laptops, and tablets.

Question has a verified solution.

If you are experiencing a similar issue, please ask a related question

Monitor input from a computer is usually nothing special.  In this instance it prevented anyone from using the computer.  This was a preconfiguration that didn't work.
No matter the version of Windows you are using, you may have some problems with Windows Search running too slow or possibly not running at all. Before jumping into how you can solve this issue, just know there are many other viable alternative deskt…
Finding and deleting duplicate (picture) files can be a time consuming task. My wife and I, our three kids and their families all share one dilemma: Managing our pictures. Between desktops, laptops, phones, tablets, and cameras; over the last decade…
Do you want to know how to make a graph with Microsoft Access? First, create a query with the data for the chart. Then make a blank form and add a chart control. This video also shows how to change what data is displayed on the graph as well as form…

707 members asked questions and received personalized solutions in the past 7 days.

Join the community of 500,000 technology professionals and ask your questions.

Join & Ask a Question