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Old 06-15-2005, 12:22 PM   #1
IcoNyx
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createing a LARGE portable hard drive with fat32


ok, I have a 250GB harddrive in some noname USB2.0 case. My objective is to create a stable and truely portable hard drive.

now here is the thing to be truly portable I require the following:

1> Physically portable (of course)
2> logically portable:
a>can be read and written to under linux, windows, and MAC
b>no permissions issues under the same OSs
3> Stable under all the above condidions (ie no risk to loseing data)
4> must use one partition not several.

I have figgured it out and based on what I have seen there are alot of other people wanting to do the same so here is what I did.

NOTE: this will only work for IDE based harddrives for now I do not know if it will work with SATA harddrives because it requires windows 98 to see the drive to work. I will look into it later but for now this will do.

step 1: remove the hard drive from the USB enclosure, and attach it to any available IDE port on the MOTHERBOARD controller. promise controllers sometimes are not seen by the win98 dos drivers.

step2: boot to a windows 98 boot floppy (can be found at www.bootdisk.com) or boot to a windows 98se installation cd. (if booting to the cd, remember to select "boot to cdrom" then "start computer with cdrom support")

step3: once at the A: type "fdisk" [enter], "Y" [enter]. now you need to confirm your drive is seen, if you only have 4 options and you have 2 harddrives attached then chances are it is not, make sure you can see the drive in bios and try again. if you have 2 drives and see 5 options then select option 5 and select the drive you want other wise it is a good idea to only have one drive attached when doing this. once you are sure your drive is seen and selected then continue... dont worry if your drive is not showing the correct size, fdisk has troubles with any drive over 60 gigs, my 250 gig drive shows as being a 41.14GB drive. just slect option "1" then "1" again to "create a Primary DOS Partition" it will verify your drive integrity to 100% large drives take a while so grab a cup of joe and wait. then it will ask you if you want to use the max drive space, hit "y" [enter] and it will scan again to 100%. then it will tell you to reboot. do so, hit "esc" then the good ol' three finger salute (ctrl+alt+del)

step3b: repeat step2. if you booted to a floppy procede to step4. if you booted to cd then you need to switch to the cdrom drive to continue, try "d:" first then try each drive letter untill you find the cdrom drive. once you find it, "cd win98"[enter] and procede to step 4

step4: now we need to format the drive, here is where it would be a good idea to only have one harddrive in the system. type "format c:"[enter] then "y"[enter]. then go watch tv or something because an drive over 80 gigs will take over an hour to format. my 250 took two.

step5: now that the drive is formatted you can reattach the drive to the USB case and close it up!

now you have a drive that can easily be read in *nix, Windows98/me/2k/XP, and even most MAC systems. cool huh?

a word of warning. the drive will have a monsterous partition table, this means initial detection under any os will take longer than normal. my 250 takes a good 30 seconds under XP to be seen and read, and 25 to 30 in linux to mount so relax. additionally when moveing large files onto the drive I recommend useing command line over gui as errors can be generated. the large partition table slows the process down so rule of thumb: if it is bigger than 100MB do it from command line if it is smaller: no problem in gui. copying from the drive will be just as fast as you'd expect as modifying the partition table is not necessary.

next: most of you know that fat32 has no permitions, I didnt at first so for those who dont know what I am talking about, a fat32 drive has only 2 permitions to worrie about: hidden and read only. there are no user specific permitions but linux says there is and shows them to you, attempts to change them will result in an error, even in root. dont worry about it leave the permitions alone. and forget about them.

and finally: disk scanning. if you should ever reach a point where you are seeing corrupted data on the drive, like virus or bad download or whatever, and you end up in a senerio where you cant delete the corupted files, DO NOT RUN SCANDISK OR CHKDSK IN XP!!!. this will cause the partition table to be rewritten in a file system useing LBA48, this is bad. your data will become corrupted and in many cases will be unreadable. if you must scan the drive remove it and reattach it to an ide channel like before and run scandisk from a windows98 cd or floppy.

Last edited by IcoNyx; 06-15-2005 at 12:48 PM.
 
Old 06-15-2005, 03:06 PM   #2
bruno buys
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fat32 won't allow you to save files up to 4GB in size. So, the drive won't be useful for video processing or backup of entire partitions. I realize you are trying to accomplish a specific task. But if you could do the same with a fs without this size limit, that would have much wider use. Did you try ext2? Its easily readable under any unix/linux, win has some support for it. Not sue about macs.
 
Old 06-15-2005, 03:55 PM   #3
IcoNyx
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while I do agree that the 4GB limit is rather depressing, think of it this way: most video editing software has the ability to break video files into smaller chunks (for this very reason) if not most if not all archiveing (zip/rar/arg/gz) software has the ability to break archives into chunks.

secondly, the objective is to have a portable drive, part of that requirement implies native support on any system attached to it. as for ext2, windows hates it, I already experimented with that, the process involved with makeing the drive visible was unacceptable and buggy, on top of that, porting data from linux to windows and back again, 9 times out of ten, I lost the data. data loss is counterproductive. thus far this has been the best alternative.

I chose fat23 because it is generic and with a fiew limitations (such as the 4GB limit)
 
Old 06-15-2005, 04:18 PM   #4
bruno buys
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Last time I tried that explore2fs on win, it seemed decent. Though I didn't use it very much....
 
Old 06-15-2005, 05:45 PM   #5
IcoNyx
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cant... stand... the... peer... pressure... *sigh* evein I will admit fat32 it less than stellar on stability and questionable when you start dealing with increaseing data chuncks. so I guess I will have to revisit the ext2 partition table and ext2 file explorers.
 
Old 06-15-2005, 07:46 PM   #6
bruno buys
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Hey friend... no pressure intended. Its just that if you're into the thing, there's no one better than you to figure this out. I do believe the fat32 solution is nice, but why stop here?
 
Old 06-15-2005, 08:01 PM   #7
IcoNyx
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please elaborate...
 
Old 07-21-2005, 01:30 PM   #8
h3o
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but isnt there a limit to the size of your FAT32 partiion, cos the FAT32 format, cos i get data loss probs on a 120GB FAT32 partition under XP, is it just the XP chkdisk? any recommendations on this matter?
 
Old 01-13-2007, 11:56 AM   #9
IcoNyx
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sorry for the delay...

sorry I forgot to repost.

I found several things that need to be considered here:

first, YES in useing fat32 you do have a file limit of 4GB. HOWEVER this should NOT be looked at as a limitation. reason: thus far there are no applications that are not able to break up data files into smaller chunks under the 4GB size. for example in my case: the drive was used as a primary backup soloution fo take images, the imageing software I use is Acronis TrueImage. TI is able to create the image in small pieces any where from the full image size down to 1.44MB chunks for floppies! I have yet to find any program that CANT do this.

second, stability. NO, useing a fat32 drive over 120GB is not a stability issue, the catch here is this: drives manufactured arround and after 2002 stopped useing the standard data cluster, they are not recorded in a "pie shape" radiateing out from the central spindal, but now are recorded in a cyclic manner, running cyclic (or in a circular manner... like a record or cd) running arround and out from the inner spindal. this does 2 things: first it makes it possible to put more than 500GB of data in the same space as a 250GB drive, and second it renders most disk checking utilities useless (such as chkdsk) because these programs will want to look at the disk physically and the new hard drive controllers (meaning the controller ON the drive and not the one in the computer) only provide a logical view which generates errors because the software fails to gain a level of control it expects to have.

because of this most drive manufacturers have made specialized drive check tools to allow you to test the drive properly if you still need. if you need to run checks on the drive you can use the disks native diagnostics (accessible on most computers by the key combo CTRL+ALT+D at post) or you can use the drive external diagnostics provided by the manufacturer, usually on a cd or floppy.

I now have a 400GB sata HDD in an external enclosure running a fat32 file system. the drive performs beautifully under windows 98 (with enclosure drivers) XP, 2k, 2k3, Linux, Mac, and I am sure there are others I can use it with without even blinking.

to create a fat32 formatted drive you can use a myriad of utilities includeing QTparted, acronis pattition manager, Acronis disk manager (or disk expert), Fatformat, and partition magic. all work splendidly. just be sure to use the "quick format" option. be aware that a slow format (sometimes called a full format) will error out on drives over 120GB.

in acronis disk expert you can use the "clear" option to format the drive if you have data you absolutely have to destroy

Last edited by IcoNyx; 01-13-2007 at 12:03 PM.
 
  


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