NTFS or FAT32 for 500GB external drive?

Discussion in 'Computer Support' started by WCH, Mar 18, 2006.

  1. WCH

    WCH Guest

    I know variations of this topic is covered here and elsewhere all the
    time. Even so, I can't find the exact answer to address my situation.
    I have many computers, lots of hard drives, tons of data that I want to
    back up. I just bought a 500GB LaCie external USB hard drive. I used
    Windows 2000 Pro to set up one large partition, which is what I want
    because I'll be sorting files into specific folders on the LaCie from
    various computers in my system.

    The size of the partition was about 476GB. I tried to format it as
    FAT32, which everything I have is, I believe, and at the END of the 90
    minute format process it said the size was too big. OK, I created two
    partitions of about 240GB each and tried to FAT32 format one of them.
    Same dead end result. It never did tell me what is the largest
    partition that it WILL format with FAT32.

    As far as I can tell, NTFS would work fine on one big partition, but I
    can't tell for certain what limitations on putting data on, and taking
    data off, my Windows 2000 machines would have if I hooked them up to a
    giant NTFS hard drive. If the drive was formatted with NTFS would
    Windows 2000 machines with FAT32 drives still be able to share
    information (on AND off) with it?

    If I hook the LaCie up to an XP machine will I gain any formatting
    advantage over a 2000 Pro machine? Given the use I want to make of the
    500GB external drive, what's the best way to get this set up?
    WCH, Mar 18, 2006
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  2. WCH,

    First of all, I don't feel right not sharing my experience with you about
    the LaCie drives. at my previous job, we purchased 5 LaCie 500Gb just like
    the one that you have. and in a matter of one month, all 5 of them had one
    corrupt drive, and stopped working. (we would get a Windows Delay Write
    failed error anytime you try to write a semi big files, and later one, even
    smaller files). If we're talking about the same product, this drive is
    really 2 250Gb drive that are some how striped together. so I had to open
    the box and throw away the bad drive and use the 250Gb drive .... LaCie was
    claiming that they couldn't reproduce the problem.
    Anyway, that's that.... I really hope that you won't experience the same
    problem I did, but seeing the same problem with 5 different drives should
    tell you something about the product.

    Anyway, back to your question. IMHO , i don't that there is a reason to use
    FAT32 almost for anything anymore. NTFS is so much more robust, has bigger
    limits and supports security.

    As for sharing with different OSs. that shouldn't be a problem either, as
    long as you have the correct security settings on the filesystem, and have
    everything shared correctly, it should be a breeze.
    As for the usage/partitioning of your drive... it's really up to you, and
    depending on the content of the drive... if it's for regular installer
    files, different documents and pictures... I would partition the drive into
    different partitions and designate a specific partition to a certain
    datatype. but then again, this is a personal preference. lately, I've been
    tending more towards just having one big partition, and dividing stuff up
    using folders, because I ran into a problem where the partition that I had
    created that was intended for ISOs became full, and found that the partition
    that was for picture still had some 60Gb free... of course, you can always
    use partition magic or such to repartition on the fly... but I didn't really
    see the reason for that.

    The other thing I would recommend that you would figure out, and would be a
    reason for partitioning is your cluster size requirements. to take full
    advantage of your hard drive size, you want to make sure that your cluster
    size is appropriate with the filetype that you're going to be storing. for
    instance, if most of your data is ISOs, then you probably won't a bigger
    cluster size, but if all you're using is small word docs, you might want to
    make the cluter size a little smaller on the partition so that you avoid
    wasting space.

    I don't know if that covered all your questions, but if you have any more
    questions, let me know and I can try to help.

    Good luck!
    Georges Khairallah, Mar 18, 2006
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  3. WCH

    Toolman Tim Guest

    In WCH spewed forth:

    First, only use FAT32 if you need to connect your external drive to a Win9x
    system. Otherwise, do the full drive as one large NTFS partition. If you DO
    need to use FAT32, you would need to do the format from a system running
    Win98 or WinME. You can't do that with XP or W2K. The partition limit in W2K
    or XP is 32Gb, IIRC.

    Second, no, W2K should have no problem accessing an external NTFS drive even
    if it running on an internal FAT32 drive. With one possible exception: if
    you have files on the external drive with encryption/compression or other
    NTFS attributes set by XP. I don't know how well W2K would handle those.
    Toolman Tim, Mar 18, 2006
  4. WCH

    FML Guest

    FML, Mar 18, 2006
  5. WCH

    philo Guest

    assuming the drive will be used on an XP or win2k machine
    by all means go with NTFS !
    philo, Mar 18, 2006
  6. WCH

    Rick Merrill Guest

    FAT32 will not work for you. The largest file a FAT32 drive can store
    is only 1.9 GB!
    Rick Merrill, Mar 18, 2006
  7. WCH

    Toolman Tim Guest

    In Rick Merrill spewed forth:
    Where in the original post did the OP indicate he had a problem with file
    sizes over 1.9GB?
    Toolman Tim, Mar 19, 2006
  8. WCH

    Meat Plow Guest

    Meat Plow, Mar 19, 2006
  9. WCH

    philo Guest

    and besides, the file size limit with fat32 is 4 gigs
    philo, Mar 19, 2006
  10. WCH

    Toolman Tim Guest

    In philo spewed forth:
    Toolman Tim, Mar 19, 2006
  11. WCH

    WCH Guest

    Thanks for all the feedback. Everybody says go NTFS so I formatted with
    NTFS and started backing up. So far so good. Thanks to all for the help.
    WCH, Mar 19, 2006
  12. Today philo commented courteously on the subject at hand
    Two billion (not the same as 2 giga bytes) actually. The spec is
    much larger than that but a tad over 2 is all she wrote.
    All Things Mopar, Mar 19, 2006
  13. Today All Things Mopar commented courteously on the subject
    at hand
    Toolman Tim, I stand/sit corrected. I had previously seen a 5.6
    gig Acronis True Image file of my C:\ partition get stored on
    FAT32 as 3 files, the first 2 a tad over 2 gig, but when I tried
    this again just now, I got the correct sizes for the 2 TI files:
    4.1 gig and 1.5 gig. So you are correct, as is pointed out in
    this M$ KB article

    All Things Mopar, Mar 19, 2006
  14. WCH

    Don_Luciano Guest

    NTFS only! As far as I remember FAT32 (DOS) may format at max 40G(32) no

    Don_Luciano, Mar 19, 2006
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