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How Big Can FAT32 be to be read/write by XP ?


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05-May-2007, 06:59 AM #1
Question How Big Can FAT32 be to be read/write by XP ?
I use a MacBook Pro 17" with Dual Boot (Boot Camp) XP Pro and OSX

I want to be able to use the same external drive for both systems. Maxstor 1 Terabyte Firewire 800 drive.

I note that FAT32 can be used up to 2 Terabyte, so I made 2 partitions, one 120Gb for pure Mac use in HFS+, and the balance of about 850Gb in FAT32 for either. I used a Linux LiveCD (Ubuntu 7) and Gnome Partition Editor to do the partitioning. Linux seems to see the partitions OK. However WXP sees the partition as "Unknown" and offers to format it in NTFS.

I know WXP can read/write FAT32 bigger than 32Gb, as I am using an external 2.5" 120Gb drive on WXP formatted as per above method, purely in FAT32, with no read or write problems.

To save me performing multiple re-partitioning and re-booting as trial and error, I wonder if anyone can inform me of the largest FAT32 partition that Windows XP Pro can read/write to before if throws a fit.
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05-May-2007, 08:02 AM #2
A FAT32 partition can be up to 8TB, and files can be up to 4GB. However if over 32GB you need to format it using something other than Windows.
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05-May-2007, 08:25 AM #3
yes, I used Linux to partitiion and format it, but WXP Pro appears not to be able to see it as FAT32, it offers to format it in ntfs when it detects the drive. WXP does see another 120Gb FAT32 drive perfectly well, but not the 850Gb one, so the question is how big a FAT32 drive can WINDOWS read from and write to before throwing an objection.
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05-May-2007, 09:53 AM #4
Depending on which Microsoft document you choose to believe, the partition can be 8TB: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/314463 or 2TB: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/310525/EN-US

When you install Windows XP it should offer you a choice to format or use an existing partition. If you use the existing 850GB partition it should work.
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05-May-2007, 12:19 PM #5
I've connected FAT32 drives with a single partition of 230gigs, and had no issues reading/writing them with XP. As mentioned, a FAT32 partition can be larger than any currently available disk. I'd suspect that Linux did something non-standard when formatting the partition. Try something like Partition Magic to format the partition.
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06-May-2007, 04:28 PM #6
Unhappy Problem not solved yet
I have re-formatted it with Gnome partition Editor

Mac OSX says it is FAT32 and can read and write to it perfectly

Ubuntu Linux says it is FAT32 and can read and write to it perfectly

Windows XP drive utility software downloaded from the WWW identifies it as FAT32

Even my Hard Drive based DVD television recorder with a USB socket can read it and play Divx movies off it.

BUT Windows XP Pro says it in UNALLOCATED SPACE only

Any suggestions that I can use to make it visible to read and write in Windows that do not involve having to buy $100 worth of software to use once only?
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06-May-2007, 06:51 PM #7
Only to format with something other than a Linux utility, which obviously has some incompatibility with XP.

What is the "Windows XP drive utility software downloaded from the WWW"? Is there any reason you are not specific, we are trying to help you identify the issue, right?

You might try one of the many free partitioning applications from this site: http://www.thefreecountry.com/utilit...neditors.shtml
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06-May-2007, 07:03 PM #8
When I wrote the post I was on a different machine in a different location and could not remember the name. The answer is I tried 2 different downloads from TUCOWS and they both said it was formatted in FAT32, just looked on tucows now, and I think the 2 progs were
CompuApps SwissKnife Create, delete partitions and format your IDE hard disk drives in one...

and

Super Fdisk Create, delete and format partitions on IDE/ATA/SATA/SCSI hard disk...
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06-May-2007, 08:50 PM #9
Take a look at some of the other ones I posted the link to. I can't imagine why one machine would read a smaller FAT32 partition, but not the larger one.
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