When you run Acronis True Image to make an image backup of a partition on your hard drive (e.g., the C: partition, which often takes the whole hard drive), you can create the partition on another partition on the hard drive, if you have the available space. Or, you can create the backup on another hard drive in your computer, or across your home network onto another computer, or onto an external hard drive.
An interesting thing occurs when you use an external hard drive, though. Acronis will let you choose to split the files into sizes that will fit onto DVD’s. That looks like what’s happening, but it isn’t that.
Most external hard drives are already partitioned into one large partition. They’re also already formatted.
The manufacturers typically choose to format using the FAT32 format. That makes the drive immediately usable by Windows, Macs and Linux computers.
Unfortunately, there is one big limitation in the FAT32 format that impacts us when we want to create system images (think of them as Restore DVD’s, just like the ones from the computer manufacturer).
That limit is the file size limit of 4 GB in FAT32. If you’re making a backup image of 50 GB of operating system and data, and having Acronis True Image compress the file, you may get a backup file that’s 35-40 GB in size.
With a FAT32 file system on the external hard drive, Windows will force Acronis True Image to break the backup image into multiple 4 GB pieces.
But, if you format the external hard drive with the NTFS file format, the maximum file size is 2 TB (2 terabytes = 2,000 GB). That should be plenty of room.
Reformatting the external hard drive is easy from within Windows 7 or earlier versions.
First, click on the Start button.
If the Start Menu has a Run option, click in it and type
and press Enter.
If it does not have a Run option, which the default Windows 7 Start Menu does not, type Run in the Start Menu’s search box, and press Enter. That should give you the Run option. Or, follow the path Start > All Programs > Accessories > Run.
The Disk Management tool looks like this:
Although I don’t have an external drive hooked up for this image, it would appear similar to the C: and E: entries.
Right-click on the external hard drive partition in the Disk Management tool and select Format… (the ellipsis "…" indicates that there’s another menu or dialog box after you select that item).
The dialog box shows us the current format and allows us to pick the new format we want (NTFS).
Once you’ve formatted the external drive to NTFS, you’ll be able to create large backup files. You may find that other programs also create huge files, for example, video recording programs and video editors.