Subscriber Ed Pilarczyk wrote me to ask:
Terry, I recently bought a WD Elements 640 GB HD. It’s file system is FAT32 (or so I read). It will be used to back up files from my computer, Vista x64, and my wife’s laptop, XP Pro. Is FAT32 ok for this, or would NTFS be better? If so, can you recomend a site that tells how to do this. I would also like to make it into 2 partitions. What is the best way to do this without spending much money on new software.
FAT32 has a maximum file size of 3.2 GB per file. Therefore, if you’re doing video editing or even using your computer as a home theater PC (which I do), that format may not be adequate. Also, if you’re setting any file-level access controls, you’ll lose them on the copy when you copy to a FAT32 volume.
First, let me say that I have NOT reformatted a commercial external drive, but I have put old drives in external cases and reformatted them. This is the procedure for an internal drive that already has one partition on it. I would expect that it works on a commercial external drive, but proceed at your own risk. Be sure to recognize that it will destroy all data on the drive!
Since Ed wanted to convert to two partitions, the easiest thing is to Windows own Disk Management Console diskmgmt.msc to delete the existing partition and then create and format the two partitions.
However, first, I would suggest running diskmgmt.msc without the external drive hooked up, so you can see which drives windows already knows are connected.
Start > Run > diskmgmt.msc
Connect the external drive.
Start diskmgmt.msc, so you can see which drive is the external one.
Remember the right click menu — right-click on a drive partition or empty space(in diskmgmt.msc) to see the options.
1) delete old partition
2) create an Extended Partition the full size of the hard drive – you should to create Logical Partitions with it, not Primary Partitions.
3) create 1st logical partition of size you want, within the Extended Partition
4) format 1st logical partition as NTFS
— go take a coffee break, watch a tv show, then go back to continue
5) create 2nd logical partition with remaining size
6) format 2nd logical partition as NTFS
The only reason I told you how to create 2 is because you asked for 2. I would only use one partition for backup, and store the backup files in a directory. That way, you don’t get situations of having space on both drives, but obviously broken apart, and not enough for the task you want to do.
Ed wrote back to me to say
Thanks bunches for you response…and GREAT newsletter. I will probably leave it FAT32, and as you noted, just make separate directories.