External Hard drive formatting for dummies?
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Thread: External Hard drive formatting for dummies?

  1. #1
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    External Hard drive formatting for dummies?

    I have a new external hard drive that is preformatted in FAT32.
    I don't know much about the different types of formats or how to reformat a hard drive.

    I am simply asking for a summery of various types of formats and their pros/cons as well as reliable ways to reformat a hard drive to each of the different formats. My external hard drive is a 500GB WDElements made by Western Digital.

    I intend to use my external hard drive to back up my laptop before I preform a clean install of the entire OS. (I am doing this because it is imo currently too far gone to try making a partition in the current hard drive and a new start would be more beneficial overall)
    I also plan to operate any and all games and other nonessential media from the external hard drive after I reinstall the OS.
    My Operating System is Windows Vista Home Premium on an Acer Aspire 5050-4570.
    Sgt. Schultz

  2. #2
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    In Windows, you format an external from Disk Management like any other disk. In general, I'd go with NTFS.

    http://windowshelp.microsoft.com/Win...129a71033.mspx

  3. #3
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    For comparisons chart, LINK
    "I know nothing."
    Cheers.

  4. #4
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    Thank you Shinma and Midknyte. Both of your answers were infinitely helpful.

    I decided to go with midknyte's recommendation to use NTFS. As I was preparing to reformat my external hard drive I remembered that when I first plugged it into my computer there was a message saying it was putting some kind of driver or OS for the hard drive onto my laptop.

    There were already three things on the drive when I selected the icon for the new hard drive and hit explore. A folder titled autorun that contained a single file titled wdlogo.ico
    There was also an empty recycle bin and a third file titled autorun.inf
    If i completely reformat it will that destroy those files or the driver software thus rendering the device useless? And if yes, how can I get around this?
    Sgt. Schultz

  5. #5
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    autorun.inf and the wdlogo.ico are for the drive icon.

    Add a Drive Icon to your Flash drive

    You don't need them, but you can save them if you want. The recycle bin is automatically created by the OS.

  6. #6
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    Ok, i've reformatted my harddrive to NTFS (that took the better half of an entire night and day) and now I am wondering how to make multiple partitions on it. i've got about 450-500 gigs (depends if you look at how the computer or the manufacturer measures disk space) and I'm sure it'll get horribly cluttered if i just throw everything onto one giant partition. I've downloaded paragon but I can't find anything on it to make multiple partitions with. Same with Microsoft vista's disk management menu. I've also heard about Acronis True Image, but they don't offer a free version of their program like Paragon does (not counting the 15 day limited trial version of acronis ti).
    Does anyone have any other suggestions I can try?

    *One thing I almost forgot to mention. Midknyte, thanks for the link to the thread about icons. I havn't had a chance to look at the sites that were linked but I did bookmark them. Is it possible to assign different icons to different partitions on a harddrive?
    Last edited by SGT Shultz; July 30th, 2009 at 03:51 PM. Reason: Remembered a related part of my question that I almost forgot.
    Sgt. Schultz

  7. #7
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    that took the better half of an entire night and day
    Why? Didn't you choose quick format?

    and now I am wondering how to make multiple partitions on it.
    You should have partitioned the drive FIRST. I personally don't like partitioning externals, but you can use something like Easeus.
    http://www.partition-tool.com/

    If you do it through Disk Management, you need to delete the large partition and create smaller ones.

    If you have 64-bit Windows, you can download/burn UBCD5 and use GParted (or just download GParted by itself). Link is in my signature.

    When you say "Paragon" what product do you mean? They make backup apps as well as partitioners. Two separate products. Acronis True Image is NOT a partitioning tool either.

    Since I don't like to partition externals, I haven't tried multiple icons. Just try it and see.

  8. #8
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    I did choose quick format, but the harddrive is still pretty big. Perhaps it was because with the quick format option I could also select (and did select) something like 'enable file compression' or something along those lines.

    You should have partitioned the drive FIRST. I personally don't like partitioning externals, but you can use something like Easeus.
    http://www.partition-tool.com/

    If you do it through Disk Management, you need to delete the large partition and create smaller ones.
    Does this mean that if I use disk management I will need to reformat my harddrive again but i don't need to do that with easeus and that I can make partitions with easeus while the external harddrive contains data?

    There are a few reasons I want to make multiple partitions.

    The first is simply an added layer of protection (yes, it sounds a bit paranoid, but I'll certainly deal with the extra hassle for some peace of mind whether or not it works) to help ensure that a backup image such as the ones made by paragon don't get corrupted/infected by the same virus that was the cause of needing to restore my system from the image in the first place.

    The second reason I want to make multiple partitions is because I don't like to mix work and play. I intend to put all my games music and videos on a separate partition from regular files and the things I work with on a daily basis. I often times find myself easily distracted, and I hope this will help to eliminate some of the distractions.

    *One other thing, my OS is the 32 bit version of vista home premium.
    Last edited by SGT Shultz; July 30th, 2009 at 07:00 PM. Reason: remembered something important I almost forgot to include
    Sgt. Schultz

  9. #9
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    I could also select (and did select) something like 'enable file compression' or something along those lines.
    You shouldn't have enabled compression. That will only slow down performance. It's not like you're running out of space.

    You might as well use Easeus to erase all the partitions and create 2 new ones. You need to get rid of that compressed partition anyway.

  10. #10
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    Ok, so if I'm understanding this correctly I need to (in this order)

    1) move everything saved on my external onto my laptop
    2) reformat the external without compression
    3) use easeus to delete the old partition and make new ones
    -make 3 partitions (backup files, games/media, and work) Maybe a 4th one too for stuff in general that doesn't seem to fit in with the first 3.
    4) put everything back to where I want them on the external

    Is this correct or am I forgetting something? Or am I making a mistake with using 3 or 4 partitions? I don't think I have a perfect grasp on just what exactly a partition is and the general nature of working with partitions. Currently I just think of them as being like folders that i sort files into, but that just seems a bit too simple and I feel I'm missing something important.
    Sgt. Schultz

  11. #11
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    More like:
    1) move files to the laptop
    2) Use Easeus to create new partitions

    You don't need to reformat the partition if you're going to delete it anyway, so your step 2 is unnecessary.

    I guess you can say partitions are like folders in that they separate data. You are creating drive level separations, rather than file system separations (aka folders). You can set different permissions on partitions if you need security or quotas, but that's more for servers, not external drives.

    Making 2 partitions for your OS and DATA on the laptop would be a good idea, since you can format the OS partition without losing your DATA. Since your external would not have an OS, I don't see the need to have multiple partitions.

    If you run out of space on a partition, it's not easy to take space from another partition. You'd have to shrink one partition and expand another, and they would need to be contiguous. IE. If you have partitions A,B,C,D in that order, you can't shrink D to add to B.

    I segregate by data by folders. By making folders, I'm sharing the total space of the drive.

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