How to format 1TB drive to FAT32

By dangeon ยท 74 replies
Aug 18, 2008
  1. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    If I could borrow a line from Clint Eastwood "Do you feel lucky, punk?"

    Meaning "don't tempt fate". You may have been lucky the first time, if I were you, I wouldn't push my luck
  2. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    Actually, out of curiosity, I did repeat the abort process with the second 2TB drive. As with the first, it subsequently displayed as FAT32 and I was able to move media onto it which was workable and readable by the PS3 (and computer).

    I thought that happening on one drive, much less both, was strange, but admittedly I have little understanding of the process; hence, here conferring with the subject matter experts.

    I don't believe it to be a fluke or tempting fate as it has worked on two separate drives now; so there must be some explaination for the process as it works and is consistant.

    So here we go folks: Unfinished FAT32 reformat, but works perfectly (for months now on the 1st 2TB drive).

    Can anyone tell me why it worked and more importantly if there may be any possible negative future consequences as a result of not completing the full reformat?

  3. hughva

    hughva TS Rookie Posts: 58

    Lookin around is right.
    This is guaranteed to cause problems if you keep doing it.
  4. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    Guys, can you provide information on how exactly it will cause problems and what problems it will cause? So far, just comments on how this is a bad thing. Dont get me wrong, I understand the whole "this is bad ju ju and not the way the universe is supposed to work" vibe - which is why i'm here asking about it.

    But so far, here are the facts:

    1. Both 2 TB drives were aborted not long after the FAT32 reformatting proceedure began and both drives work perfectly (read as FAT32, can transfer media to them, and all media read by all computers and my PS3, etc.).

    2. The 1st 2 TB drive has worked this way consistantly for almost a year now; no problems whatsoever.

    So, even though I get this slight feeling of dred due to not fully completing the reformatting process the way we're told to, the statistical data i'm receiving says "hey, this works just fine".

    Can anyone provide specific information on why it worked (twice now) and what specific problems, if any, this might provide in the future?

  5. hughva

    hughva TS Rookie Posts: 58

    What command or software did you use?
    Given that the FAT contains a record of the contents of every cluster, aborting a format has to affect these records. You have no files, which probably helped you get away with this.
    Have you ever run chkdsk on these drives? It would be interesting to see what it finds (Or doesn't find).
  6. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    Used "Fat32Formatter", a freeware program by a developer named "Tokiwa" I found online; none of the others I found would work.

    You are correct, the drives were both brand new and totally empty with no files/data/media on them when I began the reformatting process.

    Not sure what "chkdsk" is. Will do some research to find out and try.

    Though I tested the "abort" process with the new 2nd 2TB drive (which worked), I then deleted all content and reformatted it back to NFTS (was very quick, only a few minutes). Then I began the FAT32 reformat process again (before I even began posting), but I've been leaving it run through without aborting it again; so far, its been running/reformatting for about 30 hours. Wow.

  7. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    You are now the expert... since hardly anybody does what you wished to do.
    But there is very good info available, in a general sense, on the Western Digital, Seagate, and Samsung websites that might be helpful.
  8. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    I think calling me an "expert" of anything is quite a stretch. lol. I just accidently found something that seems to work, even though you think it wouldnt - or shouldnt.

    Actually, I believe reformatting external drives to FAT32 is becoming quite popular due to the ability of using a PS3 or X-box as a media server/hub connected to your TV. Unfortunately, they dont seem to want to use the NFTS formatting, only FAT32 (-just got to love proprietary software battles, dont you?). Unless, you are talking about the "abort" process - which was initially an accident; but hey, if it works, why not use it? "Unless" there may be problems with it; which is the reason i'm here asking the real experts if they can think of any dire future consequences from doing this.

    I have no formal education or training in computers, so I really have no idea how the "reformatting" process even works; I'm just curious, if anyone knew what possible problems could happen from using a drive that wasnt reformatted properly (-as the first one works fine, and i'm tempted to abort the 2nd one now - as its been running for over a day nonstop.).

    Or does anyone have an idea how long fully reformatting a 2TB drive to FAT32 should (apprx) take?

    Thanks for any help...
  9. raybay

    raybay TS Evangelist Posts: 7,241   +10

    This is not really a proprietary battle as such, but it does go back to the history of X-Box and how they are engineered... Not wise to have two systems when a great number of those users are younger kids and their parents... and tech support becomes an issue.

    If there are any tricks in formatting a 1TB to FAT32, let us know. I had no significant problem in my test format at 1TB and 1 1/2 TB using Windows XP Professional
  10. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    Hmmm. No "tricks" really, just possibly the one I stumbled upon where aborting the FAT32 reformatting process after a few minutes (-noted, on an empty drive) seems to work just as well as letting it run for a decade through a full reformat.

    Then again, I dont advocate it at this point as, though it still seems to work perfectly after a year, I dont know any possible future ramifications for doing this. The reason i'm here, actually, is to ask and see if anyone would know any problems that might arise from doing this (drive stops working, blows up, takes over earth, etc.).

    Had Windows Vista Ultimate when I reformatted the 1st 2 TB drive a year ago. Using Windows 7 while reformatting this one. Neither gave me an option to reformat the drive(s) through WIndows itself; had to find a third party program.

    May I ask how long it took you to reformat both your 1 TB and 1.5 TB drives to FAT32? Might give me an estimation on how long mine will be running (then again, maybe not, as you were using a different program thus changing the variables).

  11. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,491   +184

    Ummmm... Really???

    Microsoft's own Windows XP Professional Product Documentation states for FAT32
    > Volumes from 512 MB to 2 TB.
    > In Windows XP, you can format a FAT32 volume up to 32 GB only.
    > Does not support domains.​

    So how did you do it? Please tell us your trick to "format at 1TB and 1 1/2 TB" using XP Pro with "no problem". Could you please explain? We'd like to see why Windows XP Pro product documentation states otherwise :)
  12. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,742   +422

    Without reading back on the previous page... I'm guessing the question is why starting a FAT32 format and then stopping it seems to lead to a working FAT32 drive? Is that right?

    My guess is the same thing is happening as when you do a quick format for NTFS, it writes the cluster size stuff wherever on the drive that goes and that is it, without checking each sector. Full NTFS format checks each sector (and perhaps writes something there). So when you abort the FAT32 format, my guess is all the really important stuff got done almost instantly, and you just stopped it from checking each sector on the disk.
  13. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    Nail on the head, brother. That was my question exactly; or at least half of it.

    Can you forsee any possible problems I might have from not completeing a full FAT32 reformat? Or should the drive continue to work fine as it is? Does it need to "check each sector" to work better or properly?

    Thank you...
  14. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    With that explaination, conducted some research on full format vs. quick format.

    Found that a quick format is sufficient or even preferred when you are "sure" that your drive is not damaged or contains any bad sectors - which should be the case with a brand new external drive previously formatted to NFTS.

    Sooooo, by aborting the the full FAT32 reformat, i'm essentially just conducting a quick format (which should be alright on a brand new drive with no possibilities or bad sectors requiring a full format).

    Plus, as I'm essentially just conducting a quick format (which is okay in this situation), I should also have no future problems with the drive (which is consistant with me using the drive for over a year already with no complications).

    So - I did nothing wrong, everything is good, and reality as we know it is safe once again.

    Well, thats my understanding of it right now, at least.

    That sound right, or am I off base?

  15. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    Went and hit "abort" on the 2nd Drive which has been formatting for over 30 hours now. Hit properties and used WIndows error-checking to scan; says no errors or bad sectors and the drive is good. Drive shows as FAT 32 and is recognized by the PS3 and all computers; all test media transferred to the drive can be viewed by the PS3 and all computers.

    Everything seems good. Looks like the wise and powerful SNGX1275 was right and hitting "abort" during reformatting was just basicially conducting a quick reformat.

    Thanks all...
  16. hughva

    hughva TS Rookie Posts: 58

  17. avenom

    avenom TS Rookie

    Have you tried it hugva? i'm just new here looking for inno3d 9800gt 1gb bios wish me luck i need it. i will try it thx
  18. entropyrising

    entropyrising TS Rookie

    Didnt know about the DOS; thanks.

    I swear I tried Swissknife on my 1st 2TB drive a year ago, but for some reason it wouldnt work for me; thats when I kept looking and found FAT32formatter (

    From what I see online, though, people are saying it will be impossible to format a drive bigger then 2TB to FAT32.

    Hopefully a fix for this come out, or the PS3 gets some software update to recognize NFTS; as I know in a year or two, I'll be looking at a 4TB external drive to hold everything I have (at over 1.5 TB right now). Or maybe a new kind of compression to reduce the file sizes (though, would be a pain to have to convert every movie and TV show I have; right now, most all my movies are at about 1GB (MP4/H264) each which still allows for pretty good quality when when watching on a large screen TV).
  19. weezlebub

    weezlebub TS Rookie

    First post, but I had to throw in my 2c ...

    wii - the tool that baged the admin (usually a bad idea) ... if you're going to abuse someone for being wrong, check your info first, Wii drives use WBFS, not fat32 ...

    Cancel format - generally a REALLY bad idea, may have worked for one of two reasons:
    1. it'd finished, but had semi-hung (or had a brain freeze)
    2. the master boot record (MBR) had been updated, which is all that was needed

    Partition Magic - didn't want to convert or even format my drive to fat32 from NTFS (admittedly, it was the trial verion, but claimed to be fully featured)

    looking forward to trialing fat32formatter tongiht
  20. shellpole

    shellpole TS Rookie

    WD Passport 250gig format to Fat32

    The link given by Hughva is no longer valid. Is there another anywhere? I have a 250g passport essential from WD which i would like back to FAT32 so my TV can pick up the movie files. It is currently in NTFS which the TV does not recognise.

    I have a 500g WD which is in FAT32 ...files easily read on the TV, so I know it has to be in that format.

    Thanks for any help!!!

  21. hughva

    hughva TS Rookie Posts: 58

    The link is good. Not sure what problem you're having with it.
  22. shellpole

    shellpole TS Rookie

    i will try desperate to get the hard drive into fat32 and is becoming quite a frustrating thing to accomplish...not ever buying WD again!

    Buffalo was a piece of cake!
  23. LNCPapa

    LNCPapa TS Special Forces Posts: 4,276   +461

    This is not a Western Digital problem you are having - it could be any brand.
  24. 2nd2nun76

    2nd2nun76 TS Rookie

    the answer

    Okay you go to the start menu and click on run. Type cmd and press enter. A comand promp will appear type format (drive):/FS:FAT32. where (drive) is the letter of the drive you want to format. example.....format F:/FS:FAT32

    it will give you a warning all data on drive (F) will be lost.
    proceed with Format (Y / N)?
    Type Y and there you go.
  25. BBK

    BBK TS Rookie

    Hi guys,

    Had huge problems myself converting a 1TB HDD to fat32 and found this fantastic application that does it in about 10 seconds and its freeware.

    1) Select the HDD you want to convert from the drop down menu
    2) Click Initialize drive
    3) Tick the quick format box
    4) Click Start
    5) Done in 10 seconds
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