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Beefing up your hard disk to FAT32

fat monitorIf you've ever had a beef with the way data is stored on your hard drive, get more FAT in your computer's diet.

No, this isn't the latest fad in virtual weight control. FAT, or the File Allocation Table, reduces the size of storage areas on your disk drive, allowing you to squeeze in more data. And by upgrading to FAT32, you get even more space, while still leaving your hard drive hungry for more.

Bulk up to FAT32
Why? Put simply: a more efficient use of disk space. Unlike FAT16, which can only be used on drives of 2 gigabytes or smaller with a minimum 32K cluster file size, FAT32 can be used on a single drive of up to 7.8 gigabytes with a minimum cluster size of 4K.

Are you salivating yet?
FAT32 also allows you to relocate the root directory and use the backup copy of the FAT instead of the default copy. The boot record on FAT32 drives has been broadened to include a backup of critical data structures. This makes FAT32 drives more robust and less susceptible to a single point-of-failure.

Your file and disk maintenance will be more flexible because the root directory of a FAT32 drive is now an ordinary cluster chain, allowing it to be larger than for FAT16. Now it can exist anywhere on the hard drive.

Chew on this

  • After you fatten up to FAT32, you can't return to the FAT16 format unless you repartition and reformat the FAT32 drive. If you have converted your Windows 98 drive, then you must reinstall Windows 98 after repartitioning the drive.
  • You may not be able to convert to FAT32 if you have a compressed drive.
  • It's a good idea to back up all your data before you perform any function on your hard disk. Also, be sure to create a new Windows startup disk.
  • If you are running Disk Defragmenter, it will take longer under FAT32 due to the larger number of clusters.
  • Don't convert to FAT32 if you have a removable disk that you use with another non-FAT32 operating system because you won't be able to access the disk via the other system.
  • Some disk utilities that depend on FAT16 may not work with FAT32 drives. To be sure, contact their manufacturer to see if there is a newer version that is compatible with FAT32.
  • Because earlier versions of Windows are not compatible with FAT32, you can't uninstall Windows 98 after converting.
  • The minimum size for a FAT32 partition is about 260 MB. However, if you use the Windows 98 FAT32 converter, it requires drives to be at least 512 MB before they can be converted. This is done to gain maximum performance.
  • If you convert your hard drive using Drive Converter, you can no longer use dual boot to run earlier versions of Windows. However, if you are on a network, earlier versions of Windows can still gain access to your FAT32 hard drive through the network.

Here's the beef
You've got the brains. Now give your computer the brawn--upgrade to FAT32. Now that's a diet than anyone can stick to.

To upgrade your hard disk to FAT32, see Converting a drive to FAT32.