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Help with NTFS versus FAT32

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Grafter
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Registered: ‎26-06-2020

Help with NTFS versus FAT32

I am having trouble trying to back up my Windows 10 System using the Windows 7 Backup and Restore of Windows 10.  I want to keep it as simple as possible and prefer not to use third party software.

Anyway, I have hit an immediate problem.  I am backing up to a 2.5" x 5" (approximately with the case) external hard disk, with 2TB capacity, but Windows will not let me because it is not NTFS format but FAT32.

Now to be honest, I do not know what the difference is.  However, the external hard disk would allow me to  format it as NTFS, but of course I would lose all my existing data back-ups.  I can copy all the data backups onto the computer's hard drive temporarily to allow me to re-format the external hard drive, and then re-load it with the saved data again.  But that is quite a lot of trouble, which I do not mind having to do, but I do not want then to find that the external hard disk does not work for some reason because I have changed the format !

So can anyone help me with this ?    The only information reads "SERIAL ATA. 3.0 High Speed certified USB.  Disk speed: 5400rpm.  Disk cache size: 8MB".  It sounds like a normal laptop hard disk when it is in use.  "SERIAL" could be the brand name.

Any advice would be most appreciated.

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Hero
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Registered: ‎30-06-2016

Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

@WinfredVaughan 

The key difference between FAT32 and NTFS is that the maximum file size that can be saved on a FAT32 formatted disk is about 4GB.

As a general rule disk drives should always be formatted NTFS and unless there is a specific reason USB 'thumb' drives FAT32.

I would take the hit and format your drive to NTFS.

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Aspiring Hero
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

It's possible to convert a FAT volume to NTFS using the Convert command.

 

eg convert X: /FS:NTFS (where X: is the drive letter of the external disk)

 

Although data loss is extremely unlikely it is highly recommended to have a backup! 

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Grafter
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Registered: ‎26-06-2020

Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

Thanks.  That is re-assuring.  Very grateful.

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Pro
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

I suspect windows backup is getting upset because the backup file it needs to create is too big to fit on the FAT32 file system. The FAT32 file system has a maximum file size of 4GB (minus 2 bytes!) the NTFS file system caters for files as large as 264 bytes (16 ExaBytes). The maximum FAT32 volume size is 2TB, so your disk is at the limit for the FAT32 system.

I think your best bet is to copy the existing backups off te external drive, format it NTFS and then copy them back. The disk itself is a normal laptop hard drive (Serial ATA is more usually known as SATA), and I can't see any reason why it wouldn't work once  formatted as NTFS. I have never had any trouble with NTFS USB disks. 

 

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Aspiring Hero
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

A 2TB FAT32 partition would require 268,173,557 clusters - so unless your files are quite big, you could be wasting lots of space.

"In The Beginning Was The Word, And The Word Was Aardvark."

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Grafter
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Registered: ‎26-06-2020

Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

Thanks for the replies.

A friend uses Macrium Reflex Free version because he says it takes an image of the system and compresses it, and therefore uses less space.  But the software itself uses 320 mb.  My internal hard disk is 150 Gb.of which I have 50 Gb left.  Does anyone advise using Macrium under these circumstances ?

I have another alternative.  This desktop computer is three years old.  My old desktop computer (in the attic) has two drives.  I have just taken out the second one which held the data and discovered it is 200 Gb. It is a Samsung dated 2006.  It was only used for data and so presumably did not have to work as hard as the system disk.  It was all working o.k. when I updated my computer three years ago. [The old system hard disk is only 120 Gb.]

Would it be difficult to install the 200Gb disk from my old computer into the current computer and if so what do I do ?

Thanks for any tips.

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Pro
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

A Macrium Reflect install will take 0.7% of your free space - I suspect you are not going to notice the change.

Macrium Reflect will probably also get upset at the Fat32 destination disk. However good it's compression algorithm it's not going to squeeze your 100GB of stuff into a  4GB backup file.

On the subject of the second 200GB disk. Provided it is a SATA drive, compatible with your new computers motherboard and that board has a spare SATA connection, then you can install the old drive in the new computer. You will need the cable ( and possibly the mounting screws) from the old machine as well as the disk. 

You can either install the 200GB disk as a second (D:) drive and move less used stuff (photos, music files etc) from your existing disk. That will free up space on your existing disk.

The alternative would be to clone the existing disk to the bigger one (Macrium Reflect free can do that as far as I can see) , swap them over so that you boot off the bigger disk, delete the stuff on the old 150GB drive (format it)  and and then move stuff from the new 200GB system to the 150GB drive.

The former would be easier, and given the age of the old disk probably safer. Whatever you do - keep taking backups regularly.

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Aspiring Hero
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

If you take an image of a disk - and compress it, you are cloning your disk.

You can restore that image to get an exact replica of your entire disk - but as it was of the time of cloning.

However, you cannot restore or look at individual files etc.

Expect cloning to take a number of hours - it reads your entire disk. 😀

"In The Beginning Was The Word, And The Word Was Aardvark."

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Aspiring Hero
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

@VileReynard Macrium Reflect can mount an image file to a spare drive letter allowing full access to the files within the image.
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Community Veteran
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

@WinfredVaughan  As I understand it... from your original post... you already have backup files, folders etc, on the HDD in the caddy...

Why not buy another HDD big enough to take the existing files and folders... do an "overnight " copy  from the back up to the new hdd...  then... do the formatting required for the Windows 10 backup... do the win 10 backup...and then copy back the original back ups you already have on the "new" hdd... OR... to save time.. just buy another caddy and run two external hard drives. !

 

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Grafter
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Registered: ‎26-06-2020

Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

Well, what can I say ?  Thank you all so much for the advice.  It looks like you are all recommending Macrium Reflex, so I am going to download that and go with it.

Before I even start to do anything, I have just taken a full back-up of all my data - I am sure it was already all backed up but I am not taking any chances.  I have an existing 1 TB external hard disk for this purpose which I replaced at the end of 2019 with the new 2020 files.  So I have made sure there was actually enough room to receive my current archives (80% of which are included in the 2013-2019 set already, so plenty of redundancy.).  My new 2 TB external hard disk, which I was using until now for data back-up purposes only, can now be reformatted to NTFS, and then I will back-up the operating system in its entirety onto that, firstly using Windows Backup-and-Restore, then using Macrium Reflex; I believe in belt and braces.  After that, I will probably only use the Macrium in future but at least I could always go back to where I am now with Windows Backup.

I have not been entirely open with you.  I am in Corporal Jones mode at present, "Don't panic, Captain Mainwaring" to be honest.  Whenever I start from cold, or even start from hibernate, I have been getting a message "Problem reading the disk; press any key to re-try" or words to that effect.  So far, it always starts after that without trouble.  But I am nervous that the internal hard disk could be on the way out.  Hence my caution.

Thanks again for all the helpful advice. It is really appreciated.  When it is done, I can stop panic-ing and let you know.

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Grafter
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32


@shutter 

 

.  And I will do that afterwards too !  Good idea.  One for data, one for system.

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Aspiring Champion
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Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32


@VileReynard wrote: Expect cloning to take a number of hours - it reads your entire disk. 😀

Depends on the speed of the system. The laptop took an age whereas the PC, 20 mins all finished. And that was an uncompressed image of the original.

 

Macrium is very easy to use and implement. But given the cost of HDD nowadays I really cannot see much point in compressing data anymore. £30 (and even much less*) gets you a 1Tb with 2Tb drives coming in at not much more.

* I paid £20 for a 1Tb 2.5HD and one year on still working 100%.

Ever helpful. Grin Sure, I’d love to help you out. Now which way did you come in?
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Grafter
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Registered: ‎26-06-2020

Re: Help with NTFS versus FAT32

Hit a potential wall !

I reformatted the 2 TB external hard disk last night to NTFS.  Set it running at 20.30.  When I went to bed, it showed a tiny fraction had formatted only, which was not unexpected.  During the night at about 4.a.m. I got up for nature and took a look on my way back to bed.  It had moved to about an eighth.  This morning. at 8.30, it had not moved at all since then.  It was still clicking but nothing was happening.

So, with some trepidation I decided to stop and start again.  This time I chose "Quick Format" and it apparently formatted almost instantly.  So I copied a large folder (6 Gb) over which worked fine and shows as NTFS !

Before I go any further, what is happening ? Is "Quick Format" reliable ?  Can I be sure that if I back up my system to it, the image will be recoverable from it  ?  How do I know ?

Any comments appreciated.