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FAT 32 Drive Size Limitations?

Discussion in 'Hardware' started by halcour, Jun 23, 2008.

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  1. halcour

    halcour Thread Starter

    Mar 2, 2005
    I need to buy an external hd and format it w/FAT 32. I recall that individual files can't be larger than 4 GB, but I don't remember if there is a limit on the actual partition size. I'm planning on getting a 500GB drive if FAT 32 will handle it. (Running XP Pro.)

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  3. Dan Penny

    Dan Penny

    Mar 25, 2005
    32 GB partitions;
  4. Compiler


    Oct 11, 2006
    The largest file FAT32 can handle is 2GB - Hence, its useless for Video work.

    You can format bigger than 32GB - that is a limitation by design for Windows2000 and newer OS.

    You cannot format a volume larger than 32 GB in size using the FAT32 file system in Windows 2000. The Windows 2000 FastFAT driver can mount and support volumes larger than 32 GB that use the FAT32 file system (subject to the other limits), but you cannot create one using the Format tool. This behavior is by design. If you need to create a volume larger than 32 GB, use the NTFS file system instead.

    Wonder what happens when FLASH drives need to get bigger than 32GB?

    Halcour: Other than possible MAC or other OS access, why does it have to be FAT32?
  5. halcour

    halcour Thread Starter

    Mar 2, 2005
    FAT32 can handle up to 4GB files, I think 2GB was the FAT16 limitation.

    I'm using the drive w/my OPPO 980 DVD player for DIVX files via the USB port, the player will only recognize FAT32.

    Thanks for the response,
  6. Compiler


    Oct 11, 2006
    BTW - Partition Magic should be able to Format FAT32 under a NON Windows98 setup. If you do have to use a Windows98 setup to format the HD, you'll most likely need the updated version for FDISK (and or Format) which was available from Microsoft's website.
  7. saikee


    Jun 11, 2004
    4Gb is the limit of the biggest file one can create in a Fat32 partition which itself can be as big as 2TB.

    I ran 400Gb Fat32 disks before and the following shows it can be done on a 500Gb disk.

    For the benefit of this thread

    I hooked up a spare 500Gb external hard disk via a eSata connection. (eSata is 2 to 3 times faster than USB)
    booted up a Linux, run program cfdisk (command "cfdisk /dev/sdb", as sda is my internal disk)
    umounted all partitions of the eSata first,
    delete all the partitions inside the eSata disk,
    created oneType c partition for Fat32 for the 500Gb disk,
    wrote the partition table out, then exit cfdisk
    use mkdosfs to format the partition (command "mkdosfs -F32 /dev/sdb1". It took about 20 seconds)
    Mounted the new partition and copied a file into it as a test.
    Exit Linux and rebooted to Xp
    Checked the copied file in the new partition of the eSata external disk displayed by Xp.
    Everything done in about 3 minutes.

    In Linux the Fat32 has two types; Type b is for Win95 OSR2 Fat32 with a partition up to 2047Mb and Type c is for LBA-mapped capable of 2Tb size.

    The type b is for the early Win95 system and type c is for later Win95 and all Win98.

    Linux is a better tool for hard disk partitioning as it supports over 100 partition types. The 5th byte of every 16-byte partition of each partition is reserved to indicate the partition type. The partition types are used by allDos/MS Windows but MS does tell its users about it. The partition types are observed by all hardware and software vendors. Here is a list shown inside Linux's cfdisk or fdisk program. (The fdisk program in Linux is a much more powerful tool than the Dos's version. When a hard disk get corrupted and refused to be read by all Dos and Windows Linux is the last line of the defence. Its fdisk program can read hard disks rejected by other operating system.)
                                           cfdisk (util-linux-ng 2.13.1)
                                               Disk Drive: /dev/sda
                                        Size: 500107862016 bytes, 500.1 GB
                               Heads: 255   Sectors per Track: 63   Cylinders: 60801
         Name            Flags          Part Type     FS Type                [Label]            Size (MB)
         sda1                            Primary      W95 FAT32 (LBA)                           500105.25
     01 FAT12                 24 NEC DOS               81 Minix / old Linux     C1 DRDOS/sec (FAT-12)
     02 XENIX root            39 Plan 9                82 Linux swap / Solaris  C4 DRDOS/sec (FAT-16 <
     03 XENIX usr             3C PartitionMagic recov  83 Linux                 C6 DRDOS/sec (FAT-16)
     04 FAT16 <32M            40 Venix 80286           84 OS/2 hidden C: drive  C7 Syrinx
     05 Extended              41 PPC PReP Boot         85 Linux extended        DA Non-FS data
     06 FAT16                 42 SFS                   86 NTFS volume set       DB CP/M / CTOS / ...
     07 HPFS/NTFS             4D QNX4.x                87 NTFS volume set       DE Dell Utility
     08 AIX                   4E QNX4.x 2nd part       88 Linux plaintext       DF BootIt
     09 AIX bootable          4F QNX4.x 3rd part       8E Linux LVM             E1 DOS access
     0A OS/2 Boot Manager     50 OnTrack DM            93 Amoeba                E3 DOS R/O
    [COLOR="Red"] 0B W95 FAT32           [/COLOR]  51 OnTrack DM6 Aux1      94 Amoeba BBT            E4 SpeedStor
    [COLOR="Red"] 0C W95 FAT32 (LBA)  [/COLOR]     52 CP/M                  9F BSD/OS                EB BeOS fs
     0E W95 FAT16 (LBA)       53 OnTrack DM6 Aux3      A0 IBM Thinkpad hiberna  EE EFI GPT
     0F W95 Ext'd (LBA)       54 OnTrackDM6            A5 FreeBSD               EF EFI (FAT-12/16/32)
     10 OPUS                  55 EZ-Drive              A6 OpenBSD               F0 Linux/PA-RISC boot
     11 Hidden FAT12          56 Golden Bow            A7 NeXTSTEP              F1 SpeedStor
     12 Compaq diagnostics    5C Priam Edisk           A8 Darwin UFS            F4 SpeedStor
     14 Hidden FAT16 <32M     61 SpeedStor             A9 NetBSD                F2 DOS secondary
     16 Hidden FAT16          63 GNU HURD or SysV      AB Darwin boot           FD Linux raid autodetec
     17 Hidden HPFS/NTFS      64 Novell Netware 286    B7 BSDI fs               FE LANstep
     18 AST SmartSleep        65 Novell Netware 386    B8 BSDI swap             FF BBT
     1B Hidden W95 FAT32      70 DiskSecure Multi-Boo  BB Boot Wizard hidden
     1C Hidden W95 FAT32 (LB  75 PC/IX                 BE Solaris boot
     1E Hidden W95 FAT16 (LB  80 Old Minix             BF Solaris
  8. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

    Nov 2, 2002
    There is not a 32gig partition limit to FAT32.

    There is a 4 gig file size limit.
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