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FAT32 formats and partitions on FireWire drives System
Just got a Firewire/IDE enclosure. Put in a 60 gig drive. Since I want to use this drive on both OS X and Windows (2k), I formatted it as Fat 32 (which both OSes know about and can mount). Problem one was that I couldn't create a Fat 32 partition that big, so I split it up to two 30 gig partitions.

Now, I formatted these partitions in windows. The wierd thing is that both Windows and OS X ignore the labels (so it seemed). During the course of figuring this out, I ended up (at one point) with both of the partitions on my FireWire drive having the same name. This was OK on Windows, but on OS X. It would mount the first partition, but not the second. It couldn't even properly determine the filesystem type of the second (although I could mount it via the Terminal, Finder wasn't automounting it). Plugged the drive into Windows, changed the partition name (no reformat necessary), and voila, it worked again in OS X.

Very obscure and wierd, but it might happen to you (and it's probably a bug, because I could mount it via the shell).
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FAT32 formats and partitions on FireWire drives | 15 comments | Create New Account
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Large FAT32 partitions
Authored by: shacker on Jan 29, '02 02:44:31AM

Why couldn't you create a single FAT32 partition? What partitioning software were you using?

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Large FAT32 partitions
Authored by: davetron5000 on Jan 29, '02 02:56:23AM

I used the Disk admin tool from win2k. It let me make a 60gig partition, but it wouldn't format it. Got partway through and failed. Sam thing with 40gig.

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Large FAT32 partitions
Authored by: shacker on Jan 29, '02 08:28:31PM

Odd. There are plenty of Windows users using larger than 40GB partitions made with Win2K's diskadmin util. It's possible that a BIOS update for that machine would help. Also, it would be worth trying 3rd party utilities like PowerQuest's PartitionMagic.

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Large FAT32 partitions
Authored by: aamartin on Apr 04, '03 01:03:28PM

No, there is a hard limit of 32GB for FAT32. (Look it up in the MS knowledge base.) You can create a partition bigger than that, but you can't format it, and even if you could, I don't think most flavors of Windows would recognize it.

If you want a bigger partition, you have to go NTFS. Of course, OSX doesn't recognize this, and even Win9x won't either.

(I have a 100GB disk in a firewire/usb2.0 enclosure, and I had to break it into 4 partitions because of this. What I really want to do is make some of the partitions FAT32 and some HFS+, but I haven't figured out how to do that, because neither the Win2k disk partition tool nor Mac's Disk Utility will let me do it. The best way to say it is that OSX "tolerates" Windows disks-- you can read and write them, but you can't really do any maintenance.

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Large FAT32 partitions
Authored by: stupidnamehere on Apr 06, '03 04:42:24PM

it is possible, I have a maxtor 120 gig drive with ntfs and hfs+.

Basically use disk utility in osx to format the drive with a hfs+ partition at the end of the disk with the rest of the disk as 'free space'.
Then you will have ha disk with hfs+ and blank space. Now just connect the disk to windows and format the free space as whatever u want. I used win xp pro's disk managment to format the unused space as ntfs. it's been working for me for a while now no problems :D

But surly sme one out there has created a way for osx to read ntfs???

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Large FAT32 partitions
Authored by: prowler on Apr 06, '03 07:24:22AM

The limit for FAT32 is 32Gb. I recently bought a Lacie 120Gb FireWire drive (really cool stuff) which I want to use on both my powerbook and my windows server. Like most of you I don't like to have 4 partitions on one drive.
I use the whole disk as HFS+ (just one partitition) which works great for the mac (off course) but also on my Win2k server. The trick is installing Macdrive.

Now your windows machine recognizes the drive instantly (also giving it a drive icon with a nice little red apple). reading / writing ... works like a charm.

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FAT32 formats
Authored by: odj on Jan 29, '02 12:22:05PM

I used the "Disk Utility" in OS X to format a FireWire disk with FAT32. It mounts just fine. But this is what happens if I try to use it (i.e. move something onto it). I get an error message in OS X: "Sorry, the operation could not be completed because an unexpected error occured (Error code -50)."

Somehow the FAT32 doesn't seem to be fully compatible with OS X. Or is it a bug? If it worked it would be a nice way to move files between Windows and Mac.

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Error copying files to FAT32 formats
Authored by: jhoglund on May 03, '02 04:34:22AM


I got the same error when copying files to my FAT32 formated firewire drive. Did anyone ever figure out what the problem was? I would appriciate any help on this topic.


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FAT32 formats
Authored by: dave1212 on Jan 10, '03 11:28:14PM
The reason you can't copy is because of some file names being too long. Not for OS X, for the other file system. If they're too long( i've found more than one line) then the Mac wll NOT copy to anything ISO- or FAT- formatted. I've had to do this, even copying to an OS 9 drive on another computer!

...or a zip disk, floppy, etc.

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FAT32 formats
Authored by: E-Ram on Jun 15, '03 10:56:36PM

I found that I can save to the Fat32 drive, but I can't copy any large files without getting an error50 code.

Have you had this problem? If so, how did you fix it?

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FAT32 formats
Authored by: E-Ram on Jun 15, '03 09:51:13PM

Just wondering if you found an answer to your Error code 50 problem? I've got the same one. Any suggestions?

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FAT32 formats
Authored by: gohaku on Jun 22, '03 12:12:43PM

I got the same error code "-50" when trying to copy files within "Finder" , so I tried to copy the files within the Command Line. I found out that if the filenames have (@,[, ], ',' ) you can't copy the files.
I'm using 10.2.1, does anybody know if this has been fixed in the latest versions?

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FAT32 formats
Authored by: saint.duo on Jun 22, '03 11:14:29PM

This has not been "fixed" in 10.2.6. I believe this is because most PCs would freak out if you gave it filenames with special characters in them.


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success on 10.2
Authored by: krishna on Nov 30, '02 11:08:34PM

I've got a combo 1394/USB 80GB drive. I hooked it up to an Inspiron
8100 running win2k, partitioned it into 20GB/30GB/30GB partitions (I
also had problems with 40GB partitions) and formatted it using FAT32
and the defaults (all via the windows disk administrator).

I then hooked it up to my Tibook/800 via firewire and it mounted all
the partitions and stuck them on the desktop as three different
firewire drive icons, with the volume names I specified during the
win2k format.

I've copied stuff back and forth from my internal HFS+ drive to the
FAT32 drives (to drain and recondition a new battery I bought) and
have gotten decent transfer rates so far (~500MB/min), and no
problems. Strangely, when I formatted the partitions as FAT32 via
Linux (partition type 0xc, FAT32 LBA mode), and mounted them similarly
on my Tibook, I got about half the transfer rate (probably due to the
default blocksize of "mkfs -t vfat -F 32" or some such).

One last thing -- I used my iTunes music directory to serve as a large
load to copy back and forth to the FAT32 partitions. FAT32 won't
handle some punctuation; in particular, I had to change the
doublequote (e.g., '12" single'), question mark ('What is love?'), and
asterisk ('5,000,000*') in filenames to other characters to prevent
the copy from failing.

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FAT32 formatting under W2K/WXP
Authored by: magir on Apr 08, '03 03:38:34AM
Microsoft has crippled W2K and WXP so that they can't format Fat32-Partitions bigger than 32 GB. As it seems they want to make their users use NTFS which is exactly the MS-Behaviour we all know. Both other platforms and older Windows-Version can't read it so they have to switch or upgrade :-(.
Anyway, you can either use Windows 9x or a toll written by a german computer magazine which can be downloaded here:
By they way, they've also written a tool to control the acoustic management of IDE-Harddrives which usually makes them less noisy. The link is:
Sorry, the readme-files are german. To use h2format you have to have an unformatted partition which has already been mapped to a letter. Use the letter as a parameter for the h2format. Be cautious not to kill your data.

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