The FAT32 Resource Page
thank you for visiting the FAT32 resource page, this site explains all the options and specifications of the new FAT32 file system for Windows. This page has been created to help answer some of the questions and confusions about FAT32 and its new features.
Creating FAT32 Drives
There are only currently three ways of creating a FAT32 partition:-
1. In OEM Service release 2, if you run the FDISK utility on a large system with a drive over 512MB, it will ask whether to enable large disk support. If you answer yes, any partition you create that's greater than 5I2MB will be marked as a FAT32 partition. FDISK cannot convert a FAT16 partition to FAT32, all contents of the drive are lost if you use this method.
2. Partition Magic 3 can convert partitions to FAT32 on-the-fly without data loss, this is probably the best method currently available, it can also convert back to FAT16 if required. See the PowerQuest site for more information on this product.
3. Windows 98 includes a graphical FAT32 conversion utility, which quickly and safely converts a hard drive from the original FAT to FAT32. You can also start FAT32 Converter by clicking Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools, and then clicking FAT32 Converter.
Notes on the Windows 98 FAT32 converter: If you convert your hard drive to FAT32, then you cannot uninstall Windows 98 without reformatting. Once you convert your hard drive to the FAT32 format, you cannot return to using the FAT16 format unless you repartition and format the FAT32 drive. If you converted the drive on which Windows 98 is installed using FDISK, then you must reinstall Windows 98 after repartitioning the drive, you do not have to do this if using the converter.
The converter also requires drives to be over 512meg to be converted even though the actual FAT32 standard allows drives as small as 260 MB to be created. The 512 MB limit was probably set by Microsoft to gain maximum performance on FAT32 drives.
Important: Before you perform any function on your hard disk, it's a good idea to backup all your data. Also create a new Windows 95 startup disk!
Why Not Just Add NTFS To Windows95/98?
NTFS is an advanced file system, with support for many features not present in FAT32, including per-file compression, security and transactioning. It is not feasible to implement NTFS within the memory and compatibility constraints of the Windows 95 platform. Windows 95 still supports real-mode MS-DOS for booting and running some MS-DOS based games. Adding NTFS support to the MS-DOS kernel would have required a significant amount of MS-DOS memory, and that would have precluded the use of many MS-DOS mode games and applications. Protected-mode's only support for NTFS would not have allowed Windows to boot from an NTFS volume. However, there is a free NTFS reader for DOS/Windows9x available from SystemInternals. Note : this only supports read-only operations.
Because of the compatibility considerations described above, the implementation of FAT32 involved very little change to Windows 95. The Major differences between FAT32 and earlier implementations of FAT are as follows:
Two new partition types are defined: OxB and OxC. Both indicate FAT32 volumes; type OxC indicates a FAT32 partition that requires extended INTI3 support (LBA).
The boot record on FAT32 drives requires 2 sectors (due to expansion and addition of fields within the BPB). As a result, the number of reserved sectors on FAT32 drives is higher than on FAT16, typically 32. This expanded reserved area allows two complete copies of the boot record to be stored there, as well as a sector in which free space count and other file system information is stored.
The FAT is now larger, because each entry now takes up 4 bytes and there are typically many more clusters than on FAT16 drives.
The root directory is no longer stored in a fixed location. A pointer to the starting cluster of the root directory is stored in the extended BPB. The on-disk format directory entries is unchanged, except that the two bytes previously reserved for Extended Attributes now contain the high order word of the starting cluster number.
MS-DOS APls that rely on intimate knowledge of the file system layout generally fail on FAT32 drives. For instance, GetDPB (int21 h, function 32h), Int 25/26h Absolute disk read/write, and most of the Int 21 h, function 440Dh IOCTLs will fail on FAT32 drives. New forms of these APls are provided in OEM service release 2 which work on all FAT drives.
Win32 APls are not affected by FAT32, with the exception of one additional API called GetFreeSpaceEx() for determining the true free space on a FAT32 volume.
Once you convert your hard drive to the FAT32 format, you cannot return to using the FAT16 format unless you repartition and format the FAT32 drive, or use a conversion utility like Partition Magic, but this cannot be 100% reliable.
If you have a compressed drive, or want to compress your drive in the future, you should not convert to FAT32.
If you have a removable disk that you use with another operating system, don't convert to FAT32.
Hibernate features (suspend to disk, for example) will not work on a FAT32 drive.
Although most programs are not affected by the conversion from FAT16 to FAT32, some disk utilities that depend on FAT16 do not work with FAT32 drives. Contact your disk utility manufacturer to see if there is an updated version that is compatible with FAT32.
If you convert your hard drive to FAT32, you can no longer use dual boot to run earlier versions of Windows (Windows 95 [Version 4.00.950], Windows NT 3.x, Windows NT 4.0, and Windows 3.x). However, if you are on a network, earlier versions of Windows can still gain access to your FAT32 hard drive through the network.
The minimum size for a FAT32 partition is about 260 MB. However, if you use the Windows98 FAT32 converter, it requires drives to be at least 512 MB in size before they can be converted. This is done to gain maximum performance.
CheckDrive - is a free dos utility that scans your hard disk and calculates your cluster efficiency. It displays the space wastage of your data on different cluster sizes, and which cluster size is currently being used. It also produces a FAT efficiency percentage. This program helps to calculate how much space could be gained with the use of FAT32.
chkdrv.zip - 17K
FAT32 Conversion Information - a small program produced by Microsoft which allows you to scan your existing FAT16 partitions and find out how much additional disk space you would gain from FAT32.
fat32win.zip - 39K
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