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(SOLVED)Format hard drive with FAT32

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:22 pm
by BoDill
Hello,

I have over 100 posts in these forums because I want to use Linux, but I'm not a computer whiz, and I've needed help at every turn. Considering the topic of my next questions, i'm surpised that I have managed to put a copy of Linux 13 on my computer that works.

My computer has a 40GB hard drive, so I just bought a 250GB hard drive in order to have more to work with, and a longer future for my efforts. I have read a few things about Linux using FAT32 versus Windows using NTFS, and I've looked at a website that offers instructions on how to configure (if that's the correct word) a hard drive partially to FAT32 while leavng the rest of it NTFS.

My first question is, "Is this a good idea, or should I shoot for the entire hard drive to be FAT32?" Incidentally, the video I watched claimed that you could only format 32GB at a time with FAT32; is this true?

What I really need is some reliable advice on this subject, some factual information, and possibly some suggested websites where this stuff is explained. If you have the energy and patience to post step by step instructions, that's fine, but I don't expect you to have to do that. I am absolutley NOT computer literate, so instructions will have to be very clear and very simple. I don't want to waste a new hard drive, and I eventually want to load it with LM 17 32bit. At this point, I have two computers; one with Windows XP and one with Linux 13. Right now, I don't care about having both Windows and Linux on the same computer, but with 250GB laying around, I might think about it later (by the way, the 40GB hard drive that I have been using for several years has only 20GB of used space, as I don't play computer games, use Facebook, etc. etc. I only use it to keep business records and surf the web).

Also, since I would like do my download with a USB stick, maybe I should find out about formatting those also, not to mention the same thing for discs.

If you wnat to help me, I thank you ahead of time for your sympathy and patience, because you will likley need it.

BoDill

Re: Format hard drive with FAT32

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:29 pm
by DrHu
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File_Allocation_Table

I would also say that the experiment of formatting/reformatting and otherwise using a hard drive is part of the process of learning about disk drives and essentially using an OS
--I expect any windows OS user who has to, or wants to install the windows OS eventually overcomes any concerns and goes full bore with his/her system experiments
  • All it costs is some time
    --in windows OS cases longer than Linux to install..

Re: Format hard drive with FAT32

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 4:31 pm
by txba516
Hi BoDill,

There's really no need to format the space as FAT32 these days. Modern Linux systems can read and write to NTFS quite well. If you want to format it from Linux via a GUI, I recommend using the Disks utility (Menu -> Preferences -> Disks) or installing GParted and using that to format the empty space as NTFS.

Using NTFS over FAT32 brings fewer file size restrictions and better resiliency (error correction from corruption, etc). At this point, unless a system or application specifically needed it I wouldn't have good reason to suggest FAT32.

Cheers!

Re: Format hard drive with FAT32

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:52 pm
by BoDill
Thank you very much!!!

When I read the article about formatting in FAT32, I was baffled as to how I ever got this far with Linux without knowing about FAT32. Your updated information takes care of that.

With this in mind, I will leave this post alone for a day or so to see if anyone else has something to add, then I'll mark it "Solved".

BoDill

Re: Format hard drive with FAT32

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 6:04 pm
by Neil Edmond
If you are only going to be insalling Linux on this new hard drive, why not use a Linux file system? FAT32 is the old system from the Windows 98, and before, days. NTFS is the newer Windows file system. I don't see why you would need/want either one on a Linux system. I usually just use the default EXT4 file system.

Re: Format hard drive with FAT32

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:05 pm
by MikeF90000
BoDill wrote: ... snip ....
My computer has a 40GB hard drive, so I just bought a 250GB hard drive in order to have more to work with, and a longer future for my efforts. I have read a few things about Linux using FAT32 versus Windows using NTFS, and I've looked at a website that offers instructions on how to configure (if that's the correct word) a hard drive partially to FAT32 while leavng the rest of it NTFS. ... snip ...

BoDill
The most appropriate noun and verb would be 'partition' . :)

The above suggestion of using gparted to [re]partition your hard drive is spot on. For beginners especially I recommend running gparted from a bootable CD/DVD or USB stick when the operating system on the hard drive is not operating. The LMint install DVD, the gparted live CD ( see http://gparted.org/index.php ), Parted Magic or others all should work fine.

The above description isn't quite clear if your 250GB HDD is being used with WinXP or Linux. In any case, I suggest creating a separate partition for any unique data (say, digital pictures or music files). A separate data partition makes backup easier to understand and can allow data sharing between Windows and Linux running on the same computer (if you choose). If the operating system partition gets corrupted or infected the data partition is more likely to be safe. Under Windows the new partition would show up as the next available drive letter, usually D:.

I agree that NTFS is the way to go for a Windows system partition and a separate data partition if sharing is on the horizon. Likewise Linux should always be installed on a Linux native file system (say ext4) partition for reliability. The remaining use of the old FAT32 file system is on USB flash drives and digital camera (SD) cards although the 'exFAT' file system is coming along for larger memory cards to make our lives miserable. :roll:

Hope this helps, Mike

Re: Format hard drive with FAT32

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 9:24 pm
by BoDill
To All,

As I said, this trek was inspired by something I saw on a website. I have abandoned the idea of FAT32 now that the people on this website have given me current information.

Also, when I formatted the hard drive, to make sure it was clean, I did it on my other computer which has Windows XP, and the only "Format" choices were NTFS and exFAT32, so I chose the NTFS. Since I am totally inexperienced, I don't know anything about the "ext4" file system you mentioned, so perhaps you could direct me to a website that explains such things, and how to use them?

I am going to sign off now as its late in NY, and I have some questions to post in "Installation"; I'll call it "Gnu Grub Menu".

Thanks for your attention,
BoDill

Re: Format hard drive with FAT32

Posted: Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:20 pm
by MikeF90000
BoDill wrote:I did it on my other computer which has Windows XP, and the only "Format" choices were NTFS and exFAT32, so I chose the NTFS.
Well, there's your problem. :D Native Windows, unlike Linux, is only aware of Microsoft blessed file system types.

Next time for a learning experience, download the GParted Live image, burn it to CD / USB and boot up with it. You will see that GParted will give you quite a range of options of which, of course, you can select for your specific usage case.

Any Linux installer that I'm aware of will suggest formatting the root partition with EXT4 or possibly some more complex options like BTRFS or LVM. When you last installed LMint, an ext file system is what you probably selected.

Wikipedia has a good article comparing file systems, but it's more info than we need most of the time.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_file_systems

The main cases for most desktop users are the ones that I mentioned. Install the O/S onto what it prefers, and select others based on use case. If you are building / buying a server for backing up or serving large quantities of data, that's a whole new topic. :wink: