Your External Hard Drive

October 8, 2009

With today’s hard drive prices so low, everyone should have an external hard drive connected to their computer so they can back up their data. Most external hard drives come with backup software or you can use the backup software that comes with Windows.

Before you use your external hard drive for the first time, there is a change recommend you make to it. But before I tell you what it is, let me back track and explain something about hard drives.

A hard drive is a place to store information. How that information is organized is called the file system. It’s basically the system of organization of a hard drive. The older versions of Windows like Windows 98 used a file system called FAT32. When Windows NT came out, it introduced a new file system called NTFS. When Windows 2000 came out, it favored NTFS, but also supported FAT32 for backward compatibility. Same is true for XP. Vista and Windows 7 still support FAT32, but you can’t install Vista or Windows 7 on a FAT32 file system. FAT32 support in Vista and Windows 7 is only for secondary drives, external hard drives, flash drives, and so forth.

You may be wondering why I am boring you with this technical explanation of NTFS and FAT32. The reason is that when you purchase an external hard drive, it will have the FAT32 file system on it, not NTFS.  Why? I guess they do it for backward compatibility, although from what I have seen, there are very few computers with Windows 98 or Windows ME around.

Here’s how to convert your drive to NTFS.

First, most external hard drives come with the backup software on the external hard drive instead of coming with a CD that you install. So avoid losing that software, you should copy that from the external hard drive to somewhere on your C drive. If there is any other information on your external hard drive that isn’t on your C drive, copy that as well. The next step will totally erase the external hard drive, so make sure you have copied any important information that was stored on the external hard drive to another drive.

Now, double-click on my computer. Find your external hard drive. Right-click on it and choose “Format” from the pop-up menu. Select NTFS for the file system. Be sure and select “Quick Format” if it’s not already selected. You can give your drive a name here if you want to. Then click start to format the drive with NTFS.

Now you can copy the information you saved from the external hard drive back to it. That’s it. Now you can back up.

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