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Solved: Should I re-format my Passport to NTFS


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sbmulqueen's Avatar
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22-Jan-2009, 08:27 PM #1
Solved: Should I re-format my Passport to NTFS
I've been searching posts but can't find quite the right answer. I just got a Passport to back up my computer. I use Vista Pro - went to the Maintainence area, and wanted to do a full backup. But I got an error message that it can't do the backup, the drive (passport) is not formatted with NTFS. I can back up individual files - my docs, music, pics, etc. But is it better if I go ahead and reformat the drive to NTFS to do the full image/backup?

Thanks in advance.
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23-Jan-2009, 12:08 AM #2
NTFS will give you one big advantage for backups over FAT32, it will allow you to create files over 4GB in size which you will likely encounter when trying to do the backup. If thats what you want to use the drive for then by all means convert it to NTFS. The biggest downside to NTFS is that it is not compatible with older operating systems like Windows 98/ME and not easily compatible with Linux or MAC.
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23-Jan-2009, 12:59 AM #3
If you reformat (a very good idea), also repartition so that you don't end up like many here who used the partitions created by the manufacturer and then got a disk-is-not-formatted message after they had it loaded with files.

Most modern Linux distros support NTFS.
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23-Jan-2009, 10:36 AM #4
Wow, thanks. Two (stupid, I'm thinking) follow up questions. I'm assuming when i reformat, my backup files will be erased (which is fine, I guess with a total computer backup, they will be there anyway). I can still though add files later, as I change them (add more pics, music, etc.) yes, this passport is only for backup - believe me I've learned the hard way. And for repartioning, I'm hoping that's an obvious tool/feature that will show up when I reformat? I've been following that issue, but honestly have no idea what it means!
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23-Jan-2009, 11:15 AM #5
You can, in fact, convert the drive to NTFS and save all the files that are on it if you choose. But if you can possibly copy those files elsewhere and clear the drive, that would be better.

The file system, NTFS in this case, exists on the drive in an area delimited as a "partition". Removing that and replacing it is what partitioning is all about.

When you right-click the drive in Disk Management, it will have the option to remove the volume. When you do that, the drive is then completely blank. At that point, you create the partition. The wizard will walk you through that part and the format will then follow and is also part of the wizard.

If you decide you would prefer to convert to NTFS without removing your files, let us know.

You can't hurt the drive by trying. The only real mistake you could make is to choose the wrong drive, so pick the right one and try it.
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23-Jan-2009, 11:42 AM #6
OK, I found the directions on WD site, too. However, when I deleted the volume (and yes, i figured it was just easier/better to do that) now my passport doesn't show up! I restarted my computer, replugged it in, and zip, nada. Yikes.
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23-Jan-2009, 12:09 PM #7


Doesn't show up where? It will not appear in Explorer or Computer because there is no drive letter or file system.

Do you see it in Device Manager, or more importantly, Disk Management? Be sure to scroll down in the window to find a drive that is unallocated.

Right-click Computer > Manage > Disk Management.

Why did you restart the computer? This process can go from start to finish without rebooting until it is done.

Last edited by Elvandil; 23-Jan-2009 at 12:18 PM..
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23-Jan-2009, 02:44 PM #8
OK, upon re-reading your post I *think* I found it - it's just called disk 1, totally unallocated, says 298.09 GB (free i guess), and "online." (The reason i restarted is that i thought the computer wasn't picking it up. hope i didn't ruin anything). But there is no option anywhere about reformatting it. I did remove the volume, so I'm guessing it's blank, which is fine. I guess i just need to reformat so i can do the backup. But that is now where I am stuck.

When i right click on the name disk 1, it gives me the option of "convert to a dynamic disk" or "convert to a GPT disk". When i right click on the big unallocated section, it says "New Simple Volume" or properties (which says it's the WD320 and workng properly). arg, I think i'm making this harder than it has to be and really appreciate the help!!
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23-Jan-2009, 03:24 PM #9
OK. You now have your blank drive. The first thing you need is a partition, or "volume" as they call it. Then, inside the partition, you will format NTFS. The partition is like the outline of the city, and the file system you make when you format is like the streets inside the city.

So, right-click, choose the new simple volume, and follow the prompts with the default choices. You can check the "quick" box for formatting because the slow format takes a long time and is not needed unless you suspect the drive is bad.

When done, you will have your drive and can then right-click and change the drive letter, if you choose.

It is a pretty simple process, but if you are unfamiliar with the vocabulary, it may as well be Greek.

Last edited by Elvandil; 23-Jan-2009 at 03:31 PM..
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23-Jan-2009, 03:35 PM #10
Miraculously, I actually just figured it out - by researching other posts from you, I should point out. Unfortunately, i didn't do the quick format, and you're right, it's taking FOREVER. So I will try to cancel that and do quick format. If that doesn't work, I will toss myself out the window. But if it does - i'll report this solved. Thanks!.
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23-Jan-2009, 03:42 PM #11
May as well let it go unless you are in a hurry. But the drive should be back in Computer once there is something on it to display there.

It may have been a pain, but you saved yourself later heartache since your data will be safer and more secure with NTFS.
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23-Jan-2009, 03:46 PM #12
Sincere thanks, you were a HUGE help. I was able to cancel, do quick format and am in the process right now of backing up my computer. Many, many thanks!
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23-Jan-2009, 03:48 PM #13
You'll be doing this for your friends now, since you're the expert.

Have fun.

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23-Jan-2009, 03:51 PM #14
If its a new drive its preferrable to do a regular full format so that any sectors that might be bad can be mapped out. Most likely you won't have any but still...Unfortunately as you found, certain stages of Vista are so slow at formatting an external, it would be far more exciting watching grass grow. Once in a while the full format will uncover an error on the drive which would warrant its return but with Vista on the job you'd never be able to tell since the symptom is stalling or taking a long time to format. Vista has sped up the process more recently but its still not up to par with XP.

Id full-format it on an XP system if possible, Vista if it was going to take less than a day, and only quick format as a last resort. Your choice though, you will probably be fine with just a quick format.
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23-Jan-2009, 04:02 PM #15
I agree that a full format is probably preferable. And a new drive shouldn't be trusted with important data until it has been used a few days and shows no abnormal behavior.

But most new drives are fine, and I could feel the panic of the OP (sweat and all). So, I think the quick one will be sufficient. New drives that are defective I don't believe usually have bad sectors. It's more likely that they would have defective electronics.
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