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FAT32 --> NTFS

Talk about computer software/hardware problems, related to digital video or otherwise.

FAT32 --> NTFS

Postby Bob D » Tue Apr 24, 2007 12:44 pm

I was reading a thread on PrEL forum regarding converting a drive from FAT32 to NTFS. This topic interests me for this reason. My daughter has a laptop that is formated as FAT32 and only has a C drive. The laptop is incredibly slow. It is a Dell C400 with only 256MB memory and I think a 6gig hard drive. This machine is NOT used for any video, gaming or anything resource intensive, It is primarily for internet and word processing, but to do anything on the machine takes a considerable amount of time.

After reading a post in PrEl forum it sounds like there is a command to convert the drive to NTFS without having to wipe the drive clean and start over. The specific instructions are:
To convert a volume to NTFS from the command prompt
1. Open Command Prompt. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.

2. In the command prompt window, type: convert drive_letter: /fs:ntfs

For example, typing convert D: /fs:ntfs would format drive D: with the ntfs format. You can convert FAT or FAT32 volumes to NTFS with this command.

Important Once you convert a drive or partition to NTFS, you cannot simply convert it back to FAT or FAT32. You will need to reformat the drive or partition which will erase all data, including programs and personal files, on the partition.


What I am wondering is if this would help my situation in speeding up application launching, etc? And is it possible to run this command where there is no partition (just a C-Drive).

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Postby John 'twosheds' McDonald » Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:04 pm

Check the IDE settings in device manager. You are looking for something like IDE ATA/ATAPI Controllers. Expand this option and select Primary IDE Channel, right click then select properties. In properties select 'Advanced Settings' and ensure that the transfer mode is set to DMA or Ultra DMA Mode 5.

We found this problem a few months ago. If Windows encounters an (I/O?) error it progressively slows down the hard drive transfer rate 'til the point is reached that te computer runs like a dog. Resetting the values cured our problem (discovered when a virus scan took 7 hours instead of 10 mins).

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Postby Ken Jarstad » Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:27 pm

Bob, I would not recommended reformatting this drive to NTFS. It is old, it is slow and it is too small. I'm not sure it can be converted and it would not have any perceptable benefit. In fact, it may become less efficient since the sector size may become larger since NTFS was designed for HDDs larger than that one.

As John suggests, check to see if the drive controller is set properly. But you may find that this drive doesn't even support DMA. It may only support PIO modes.
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Postby Chuck Engels » Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:34 pm

I agree with Ken, don't do anything to that drive. I would doubt it could handle the NTFS file system, is that computer running Windows 98 or 95?
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Postby Bob D » Tue Apr 24, 2007 1:48 pm

Whew! Thanks for the response. I was a little skeptical to make this conversion. I'll check into the device manager settings when my daughter lets me get access to the machine. Maybe that will help.

It is running windows XP professional. I think it is a 2002 or 2003 model.

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Postby Chuck Engels » Tue Apr 24, 2007 2:26 pm

I tend to doubt it is the drive that is causing the slowness, probably another 256mb of RAM would make a world of difference. Windows XP is probably using a good portion of the available RAM and if the Paging file isnt set up properly it could cause all kinds of slowness issues.
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Postby John 'twosheds' McDonald » Tue Apr 24, 2007 3:07 pm

I agree about the limited RAM but if the HDD is running slowly it willl affect the paging file so it will be worth checking that.
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Postby Ken Jarstad » Tue Apr 24, 2007 4:54 pm

Are you sure it a 6 GB drive? That's why Chuck asked if it was running Win95/98 because that is the era of drives that size. WinXP Pro? It may take up one third of the disk space. I would never suggest installing it on that size drive. Check again, Bob.
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Postby Bob D » Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:06 pm

I was able to work on my daughters laptop tonight. It is a 20gig HD with still only 256MB RAM at a 866Mhz speed! I did check the IDE ATA/ATAPI settings and it is set to Ultra DMA Mode 5. So unless there is any other suggestions I guess this is as good as it gets.

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Postby Chuck Engels » Thu Apr 26, 2007 8:50 pm

A few other tricks that you may already know;
System properties, Advanced tab - Performance Settings
Set to 'Adjust for best performance' and then on the Advanced tab there set both options for 'Programs'.

Virtual Memory will be very important for that machine, set it for at least 500mb (too much isn't good because of the small hard drive).

Turn off screen savers, power management, anti virus, all the same stuff we always mention.
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Postby NotStevenSpielberg » Tue May 15, 2007 7:44 am

Contrary to earlier replies, I would definitely suggest converting to NTFS - Win XP was specifically designed to run on it.
I suspect your XP installation was an upgrade and the option to convert to NTFS was opted out of.
Disk size is irrelevant - what is relevant is what's on the disc and your lack of RAM - XP will quite happily use all of that 256 if it gets the chance. To check - Give the 3 finger salute and look at the performance tab in Task Manager and compare your Total memory with Available memory - that will give you an idea of hungry for memory your system is. - To be honest I wouldn't run XP in anything less than 512Mb of RAM and preferably a Gig if I can squeeze it to my laptops.
At only 3 -4 yrs old, you should be able to get some more memory for the laptop and that has got to be your #1 priority.
Turn off 'Allow Indexing Service' as well ( In Explorer right click the drive Icon and choose properties ) and , honestly, let XP decide on the virtual memory size.
When was the last time a Disc clean-up was run or the Internet temp file folder emptied?
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Postby John 'twosheds' McDonald » Tue May 15, 2007 8:25 am

A more general tip.

Windows by default assigns 12% of your hard drive space to system restore points. Normally something closer to 100-200Mb is sufficient.

To check and, if you wish to, to adjust the default settings go to Control Panel>System>System Restore.

Click on the drive letter and then click on settings. Adjust as required.
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Postby Bob D » Tue May 15, 2007 9:45 am

Thanks everyone. I did do complete cleaning of the drive using Grisoft CCleaner, along with the supplied defrag stuff. For sure the memory is lacking, but I'm not willing to invest in this machine and my daughter doesn't seem to mind the slowness, just me whenever I need to do something on it. She will probably get another new machine in a year when she is closer to going to college.

I do plan on trying to convert to NTFS once the school year is over. I don't want to disrupt anything while she has stuff on there that may be criticle to get to.

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