Some days you really want to slap someone at Microsoft….



So, I was formatting a drive the other day. It’s an external hard drive that will need to be readable AND writable by both Mac and Windows XP machines. So, the only choice (without paying for MacDrive to read/write to HFS+) is really FAT32. The drive is in the 250GB-300GB ballpark. So, I reference the maximum filesystem size and see that FAT32 supports up to 2TB filesystems. No problem. I was doing this from the Windows XP machine that would be one of the drives “hosts” and after much scratching around created and attempted to format the FAT32 partition – a LONG verification process ensued 30 minutes – 1 hour. After which…. “volume size too big” eh? Well… the format tool under Windows XP/2000 is crippled…


32 GB is the largest FAT32 partition that you can create under XP/2000. (Although they can read any size EXISTING fat32 partition.) Now, the reason they want to ENCOURAGE (force) you to use NTFS for large drives is the storage efficiency of NTFS compared to Fat32 on such large volumes. (On a larger than 32GB partition, Fat32 wastes more space if you have lots of small files compared to a similarly sized NTFS partition.)

So… a 3rd party utility is needed to get things done (a Mac might be able to do the format as well, as long as it knows it needs to share the drive between Windows/Mac).

fat32format is one downloadable option, but there are myriad gnu/linux boot cds with partitioning (and filesystem formatting software). Ranish is recommended too, as a good partition manager.

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