Format my hard drive to FAT32?

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Razorcane

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Feb 19, 2009
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I was wanting to format my hard drive(internal, main OS) to a FAT32 so that I can use it with other OS's, but I can't remember how. Their used to be an external program that could do it, I think it was called XLive. I burnt it to a dvd(didn't have any cd's) and it didn't boot. So now I'm at a loss as to what to do. Any help would be appreciated.
 

Triple6

Rob
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Dec 26, 2002
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Any Windows CD or Linux CD can do that for you as part of the installation. No need for a third party program. Unless you are looking for a utility to resize the existing partition and add more partitions while keeping all your data intact.
 

Razorcane

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No thank you, I just want to wipe my Windows 7 hard drive and create a FAT32 file system :D
 
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It is a pretty straight forward operation in Linux with which you can do it using any Linux Live CD.

In your case the quickest way is to (1) alter the partition type from 7 (NTFS partition) to c (Fat32 in LBA mode) and then (2) Format it. This is done in the following steps.

(1) Boot up a Linux Live CD, anyone will do and click terminal.

(2) Get yourself into root (equivalent to Admin in MS Windows). The method varies from distro to distro but it is quite common to type in "sudo su" and press the "retuen" key when the root password is demanded. The exact method is always published in the distro's web site. To alter a hard disk setting is a privilege operation in Linux and can only be done as a root user (equivalent to admin in MS Windows).

(3) The hard disk if it is the only one will be known as device sda (or hda for older Linux). You can run a program cfdisk to alter the partition type from "7" to "c". The cfdisk is self explanatory and the command to run it is
Code:
cfdisk /dev/sda
Just highlight the partition and select "type" and enter "c". Remember to click "write" to effect the partition modification and enter "yes" as the final confirmation. At this stage everything is reversible. The alteration of partition type does not affect the partition interior but the partition no longer work as the filing system does not match its type. It will be treated as unformatted in a MS Windows.

(4) To format it in Linux with a Fat32 filing system requires this command
Code:
mkdosfs -F32 /dev/sda1
.

After formatting the previous filing index would be destroyed and the data would not be recoverable. In its place a new filing index (all blank) in FAT32 would have been installed in the reserved sector of the partition which I assumed to be the only one and called sda1.

Your hard disk is now ready for read/write and any information stored will be in Fat32 format.

Please be mindful of that a standard Fat32 filing system, usable across different operating systems, has a limitation of not able to address a file if it is larger than 4Gb in size.
 
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