Fat32 partition size limit (OT in uk.d-i-y)

Just (today) bought a Verbatim 1TB USB-3[1] external drive for general backup purposes, plus transferring data between computers - all Windoze, but a mixture of XP, W7-32bit and W7-64bit.
It came formatted as Fat32, and there appears to be a single partition occupying the whole of its 1TB capacity.
However, the on-disk manual which came with it seems to suggest that Fat32 partitions are limited to a maximum of 32GB. I know that to be untrue because I've got a 64GB thumb drive which is formatted as Fat32 - and that's definitely got more than 32GB of data on it. Some sources seem to suggest that the default Windoze format command cannot format more than 32GB at a time in Fat32 but there are third-party alternatives which can.
Can anyone shed any light on this please?
The manual suggests that users may want to create multiple partitions on the disk - possibly a mixture of Fat32 (for maximum transportability) and NTFS (for fewer size - presumably both partition size *and* file size - limitations). If I understand it correctly, it's telling me to delete the existing partition - so the whole thing becomes unallocated space - and then create the required new partitions. Questions: a) is this necessary? b) if I delete the existing partition, presumably the documents and software which came on the disk will be lost unless I copy it all elsewhere first? c) If I create multiple partitions (say, 1 fat32 primary, 1 Extended - containing several NTFS logical partitions) and give each one a drive letter, will the drive letters change depending on which system it's connected to at any one time - or do I need to choose drive letters which won't conflict with those in use on *any* of the systems to which I will connect it? d) if I back up my operating systems, using something like Paragon Rescue & Backup software (which is stand-alone, and boots from a CD) will that software be able to see all the partitions? [My current thoughts are that I will use a separate partition for each system I'm backing up - so that each one is self-contained].
I think I know broadly what I want to achieve, but I feel that I need to understand all the issues before starting to muck about with this new disk.
Any constructive comments will be greatly appreciated.
[1] It's backwards compatible with USB-2, which is how I shall be using it - in the short term, at any rate.
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Roger
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Unless you foresee that you will be using it with something that doesn't support NTFS, I'd just repartition it as a single NTFS partition and be done with it.
Was scratching my head the other day trying to copy an 8Gb file to an empty 16Gb USB stick that I'd forgotten was formatted Fat32, because I'd used it with the TV which doesn't support NTFS :) :)
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I did note your comment about backing up different OSes to different partitions, if that's your preference then Windows should assign them a drive letter as necessary when the disk is mounted.
Personally, different directories are good enough for me, while different partitions may offer some protection against certain kinds of disk corruption, ICBA with having to remember which partition relates to what :)
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On 30/10/2014 22:16, Lee wrote:

That's what I usually do.
Then I change the security on the partition so 'Everybody' has 'Full Control' to make sure I'll always have write access even if my user name isn't the same on all systems.
Lately I've also been choosing a larger allocation block size than the default 4K, hoping that this'll speed things up in some cases (I use 32K).
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On 02/11/2014 00:40, Brian Gregory wrote:

Rather depends on what you are doing!
Space management is obviously a reduced overhead when considered across the whole partition, but the overheads of accessing a single file? Probably not much.
Could end up costing a lot of space if you have a lot of files that are small.
I certainly do things like that when creating partitions for backups and other very large files.
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On 30/10/2014 21:38, Roger Mills wrote:

I thought the 32GB limit was from within Windows 2000 - not a universal limit.
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And later Wins as well.

Correct, but the maximum file size it can handle is universal.
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On 30/10/2014 21:38, Roger Mills wrote:

Yup partitions can be larger than 32G, but the windows 7 format program can't produce them.

Not really. Depends a bit on what you want to store on it. Large FAT partitions can waste a fair amount of space if you are storing lots of small files.

Correct

Yes.
Recent versions of windows can also cope with multiple primary partitions, which is usually simpler than titting about with extended partitions.

Generally it will sort it out when it mounts them, and allocate available drive letters.
(note with NTFS partitions you don't have to allocate them letters - you can mount them unix style in a folder tree elsewhere)

Probably - so long as it can see NTFS partitions on external media.

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On 30/10/2014 22:30, John Rumm wrote:

It's a totally artificial limit introduced fairly recently my Microsoft. My theory is that they're hoping to push people into using their new proprietary exFAT format.
I thought the command line format command could still do FAT32 >32GB but maybe I'm wrong.
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Nope, its been around since Win 2K.

Nope, there was no exFAT then.

Not with the NT based Wins.

No maybe about it.
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See here for one of those alternatives: http://www.ridgecrop.demon.co.uk/index.htm?fat32format.htm
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wrote:

That does seem to be a common default pre-formatted FS choice for USB drives. I believe this is chosen as a default since just about any other OS can read and write to FAT32 volumes, even Apple Macs!

AFAICR, even the version of FDISK and the FORMAT commands that came with winME could create larger than 32GB FAT32 partitions. I think the limit was the maximum LBA addressing limit (128GB, ISTR) inherent in win9x OSes.
WinNT inherited a 32GB limited version of its FAT32 partitioning utility all the way from win2k and up. The limit wasn't an OS one for win2kSP3 and above (with a simple registry edit to enable large LBA support - needed even for SP4 - large LBA support for winXP didn't become automatically enabled until SP2 or SP3).
I think Microsoft didn't want to encourage the use of large FAT32 volumes so they didn't update their partitioning tool as a matter of deliberate 'neglect'.
As you know, there are plenty of third party partition management tools which will happily create FAT32 partitions in excess of 1 TB if that is your desire. If, as you've implied, you're never ever going to attach it to an Apple Mac or a PC with a windows version less than 2000, you won't require FAT32 in any shape or form so you might as well delete the FAT32 partition and reformat it as NTFS.
If you're going to use it purely as a data store, you might as well install a single partition covering the whole of the disk space. Further, if you want to avoid the risk of accidently confusing the boot process on the connected machine or eliminate the risk of accidently formatting it as a boot disk by forgetting to disconnect it when rebooting or re-installing an OS, I'd suggest you only create an extended partition in which to add your single logical disk volume.
Although the drive is small enough not to rely on an Advanced 4k sector Format, I'd check on this before you partition it just in case the disk uses AF sectoring to achieve its capacity on lower density media by virtue of the slight increase in capacity that results from the reduced format overhead per kilobyte of disk space.
One way to be certain about this is to install Paragon's Alignment tool so you can just prep the disk in the usual way with diskmanager and check the result _before_ you start using it to store data.
If the Alignment tool shows it to be in need of alignment, you can use the tool to adjust the partition in just a minute or two versus hours and hours of runtime when the partition already contains a collection of files.
HTH
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Johny B Good wrote:

Another possibility, is FAT32 may not have the level of patent protection that NTFS and ExFAT do. You'd need to check the articles on all three of those, to get a feel for how "safe" it is to ship product with FAT32 on it.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fat32
(See "Challenges and lawsuits")
"Developers of open source software have designed methods intended to circumvent Microsoft's patents."
On a 1TB drive, FAT32 is not the best choice, since the maximum file size is ~4GB. To fill the whole space, you'd need at least 250 files, as no file can be bigger than 4GB. This is a problem if you put .vhd files, .iso files, .mrimg (Macrium) files or Acronis backup files. As many backup programs can easily make a file bigger than that limit. Even a download could end up bigger than that.
The 32GB limit is Microsoft imposed, as a "feature" of the OS. In the opinion of Microsoft, they decided that 32GB was "big enough". Whereas the definition of the file system, allows a FAT32 partition to be 2TB. To be able to format a freshly declared 2TB partition, you could try the Ridgecrop formatter, as it has no issues with helping you out. Whereas Microsoft will simply remove FAT32 from the format menu, if the partition you want to format is too big.
The file allocation table (FAT) size is likely a function of the size of the partition, so doing that also causes a rather large FAT. But with the big machines today (lots of RAM, lots of address space), that's probably not a big deal. A fifteen year old machine might have an issue, due to "slow everything" in hardware.
Paul
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There are some of the more primitive set top boxes etc that only support FAT32.

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Roger Mills wrote on 10/30/2014 5:38 PM:

If you want NTFS and don't want to lose the data just convert the format:
At the command prompt, type the following, where drive letter is the drive that you want to convert: convert drive letter: /fs:ntfs For example, type the following command to convert drive E to NTFS: convert e: /fs:ntfs
See this for additional info. http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307881
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No they aren't. That is just the biggest that the latest Wins will format FAT32, but its completely trivia to use a different formatter.

Yeah, I ran a 1TB drive FAT32 for a while and changed to HPFS when I replaced the VCRs with a PVR because there is no maximum file size that matters with HPFS.

That is correct, and the older Win formatter can too.

That's correct.

Correct on both counts. And the last isnt academic if you use it on a PVR etc. While some will auto split the files with a FAT32 formatted drive, its more convenient to not have split files.
It isnt hard to get files bigger than FAT32 supports.

Yes.

Not if you don't care about the maximum file length question, but on the other hand, there is no real downside with formatting it all HPFS unless you need to use it as an external drive for a set top box that will do PVR, some don't support HPFS.

Yep.

Yes, particularly if the systems have different numbers of partitions on them.

You can't actually force a drive letter to be used with all Wins.

Yes.

That isnt a great approach because the size of the backup varys over time so you can end up with the free space scattered over the partitions.
Its better to have a single partition and specify the system its the backup of using the file name instead.
That way you don't have to fart around changing the partition sizes over time and the free space doesn't get scattered over the partitions.

Yeah, particularly given that once you have it partitioned and have the backup files on it, its not that easy to repartition the drive WHEN you discover you got the partition size wrong.

Yeah, its an important consideration. When USB3 can be used, its noticeably much faster.
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You can always give partitions names too (-:
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[]

Well, depending on whether you do clones or images, and whether compression is on if you do clones, but on the whole, yes.

Why is scattered free space a problem ... []

[] ... except that (-:! [_Could_ be that Roger intends to make partitions the same size as the systems being backed.]
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The size of the backup does vary with both approaches.

You'd be mad not to with more than one clone on the drive.

You end up with less space to write another backup to.

It makes more sense to compress the clone so you can get more on the drive.
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I use mainly XP on FAT32. NTFS seems to be more efficient and it can handle files over 4 GB, so I keep one NTFS partition for large file storage. XP-FAT32 has no trouble accessing the NTFS partition. The reason I don't go with all NTFS is because user file restrictions are nothing more than a nuisance complication for my purposes. But those complications are relevant only if the OS running is NTFS. In that case the FAT32 partitions are handy for their inability to makr files with restrictions.
Similarly, when I've dabbled with Linux I like to keep all files on FAT32 partitions, to escape the problems of Linux file restrictions.
There should be a way to simply shut off all of that, but unfortunately there isn't. Both systems are designed for commercial use with multiple users and "untrusted access" being commonplace.
| Just (today) bought a Verbatim 1TB USB-3[1] external drive for general | backup purposes, plus transferring data between computers - all Windoze, | but a mixture of XP, W7-32bit and W7-64bit. | | It came formatted as Fat32, and there appears to be a single partition | occupying the whole of its 1TB capacity. | | However, the on-disk manual which came with it seems to suggest that | Fat32 partitions are limited to a maximum of 32GB. I know that to be | untrue because I've got a 64GB thumb drive which is formatted as Fat32 - | and that's definitely got more than 32GB of data on it. Some sources | seem to suggest that the default Windoze format command cannot format | more than 32GB at a time in Fat32 but there are third-party alternatives | which can. | | Can anyone shed any light on this please? | | The manual suggests that users may want to create multiple partitions on | the disk - possibly a mixture of Fat32 (for maximum transportability) | and NTFS (for fewer size - presumably both partition size *and* file | size - limitations). If I understand it correctly, it's telling me to | delete the existing partition - so the whole thing becomes unallocated | space - and then create the required new partitions. Questions: | a) is this necessary? | b) if I delete the existing partition, presumably the documents and | software which came on the disk will be lost unless I copy it all | elsewhere first? | c) If I create multiple partitions (say, 1 fat32 primary, 1 Extended - | containing several NTFS logical partitions) and give each one a drive | letter, will the drive letters change depending on which system it's | connected to at any one time - or do I need to choose drive letters | which won't conflict with those in use on *any* of the systems to which | I will connect it? | d) if I back up my operating systems, using something like Paragon | Rescue & Backup software (which is stand-alone, and boots from a CD) | will that software be able to see all the partitions? [My current | thoughts are that I will use a separate partition for each system I'm | backing up - so that each one is self-contained]. | | I think I know broadly what I want to achieve, but I feel that I need to | understand all the issues before starting to muck about with this new disk. | | Any constructive comments will be greatly appreciated. | | | | [1] It's backwards compatible with USB-2, which is how I shall be using | it - in the short term, at any rate. | -- | Cheers, | Roger | ____________ | Please reply to Newsgroup. Whilst email address is valid, it is seldom | checked.
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