Disk Utility refuses to format drive as FAT32...please help

Discussion in 'Mac Basics and Help' started by Errk!, Aug 19, 2009.

  1. Errk! macrumors 6502

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    Mar 6, 2006
    #1
    I've got an external drive (320GB) that I'm trying to format as FAT32 using Disk Utility, then create a large (as in, most of the drive) HFS partition.

    The problem is that no matter what I do, it will only format the drive as Mac Journaled. It lets me select other options (Mac, FAT32) and goes through the process with no errors or warnings, but when I click on the drive it remains Journaled with a partition of whatever I just selected.

    I am sure beyond the shadow of a doubt that I am selecting the drive itself, not the partition, when formatting. This is extremely frustrating. Google searches aren't turning up any clues and I don't know what to do.

    I have other external drives formatted as FAT32 with a large Mac partition so I know it's possible.

    I need to do this so I can mount the drive on a Windows machine.

    Any ideas?
     
  2. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    Jan 9, 2004
    Location:
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    #2
    First, you don't want to format it as FAT32 first and then create the HFS partition -- you want to do it at the same time. Are you using an appropriate partitioning scheme? Select an appropriate partitioning scheme (GUID is probably fine) with two partitions, size them, and change one to MS-DOS.... At least, this is the way I believe it works.
     
  3. Errk! thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #3
    I am using GUID...my understanding of how it works is that the drive is formatted as...whatever you format as and then you can create whatever partitions formatted however you need them at any time - it doesn't have to be done when the root of the drive is formatted.

    Also, my understanding is that in order to use a drive in Windows and Mac the drive itself has to be partitioned as FAT32 then you can add a Mac partition.
     
  4. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #4
    No... you create partitions in the partition table and each partition has its own format (becomes a "volume"). There's no reason why the HFS partition would preiously have to have been part of a FAT space before it would work.
     
  5. Errk! thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #5
    Not that I don't believe you, but how/why are the other drives I'm using FAT32 with (smaller) Mac partitions?

    And why can't I format the drive as ANYTHING but Mac Journaled? The devices I'm using it with cannot read Journaled formatted drives.
     
  6. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #6
    (1) They aren't. That statement is meaningless -- the FAT32 part of the disk is FAT32, but there's no sense in which the HFS part is. FAT32 is a partition/volume format -- it only exists inside the partition.

    (2) You're doing something wrong in Disk Utility... why not try it the way I suggested instead of arguing the point? ;)
     
  7. Errk! thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #7
    :D Sorry - that wasn't my intent and I appreciate your help.

    But when I did that I ended up with 2 paritions on a drive that is still Journaled. I clicked on the "root" of the drive then the "Partition" tab and selected 2, making one FAT32 and sizing it as small as possible (which seems to be 32 and no smaller...I can't go smaller?) and the other as Mac OS Extended.

    When I was done, the 2 partitions are there but in a drive that is Journaled.

    I'll try to attach some screen caps here...
     

    Attached Files:

  8. Errk! thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #8
    Here's one of the other drives I mentioned.
     

    Attached Files:

  9. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #9
    Thanks for the pictures, but now I even less understand what it is you want... what's wrong with the drive the way you made it? It looks correct to me, aside from the fact that yours has GUID and the USB has an MBR.

    Like being FAT32 or not, being journaled or not being journaled -- it has nothing to do with the drive as a whole. It also only applies to the partition.

    I think maybe what you're doing is going to the erase screen and assuming that because it offers you the option of erasing and repartitioning as an HFS drive, that this means the drive somehow has a journal aside from the journal of the HFS Partition -- that's not correct.

    I think it gives you the default option of erasing yours and repartitioning to HFS and the USB drive defaults to FAT32 because the USB drive has an MBR ... scheme. That's it.

    Your drive should be correct as is. If the PC can't read it, try making it with an MBR scheme instead of GUID.
     
  10. Errk! thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #10
    I freely admit that my understanding of this is quite limited, so thanks for your patience while I try to wrap my head around it.

    I guess the way I understood it is that the drive is formatted and the partitions kind of sit "inside" it, and that's why the "root" (i.e. the drive itself) has to be FAT32. You're saying this isn't correct? If not, why is the physical drive Journaled and the 2 drives "under" it FAT32/Mac OS Extended?

    Again, I'm not arguing, I'm just having a hard time understanding. Especially because in the second post of screen shots it shows a FAT32 physical drive with a Mac OS Extended drive "under" it - and nothing else. I don't understand why it's different.

    I don't think so - I wasn't in the Erase screen, I was in the Partition screen.
     
  11. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #11
    Yeah, so that's an important point -- you have to give that up. You're using a lot of terms incorrectly or at least in a way that's confusing you. Forget the idea of a root -- it isn't helping you here. The drive itself, which is represented by the first level of the disk utility diagram -- the thing that says 298GB Hitachi ... or whatever, doesn't have a partition (HFS or FAT32 or whatever) or any of the properties associated with one (a journal, etc). It just has a partition scheme (GUID or MBR or whatever) that holds partitions. The partition scheme identifies how partitions are put onto the drive and also how the drive can be used for booting.

    The partitions are written into the partition table -- the partitions are represented by the volumes that are treed under the 298GB.... The partitions and only the partitions have properties like being FAT32 or having a journal. Even in a simple partition setup, where one partition fills the drive, there is technically still a partition written inside the partition table and it's the partition, and not the "drive" that has the journal and is FAT32 and so on.

    The screenshots you posted are all for the purpose of erasing a drive. The list box in the middle of the screen represents what you would erase it to -- not its current state. Again, I think the reason that the box is different in the screenshots because when OS X sees the MBR, it assumes you want to make a PC partition. I'm not sure about that part, but I am fairly sure it's irrelevant.

    You avoided my question... did you try the drive after partitioning it? Aside from your arguments about the "root" of the drive "having a journal," why do you think it isn't correct?
     
  12. Errk! thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #12
    You are a gentleman (assuming you are male) and a scholar. Thanks for taking the time to explain that. That helps.

    That's where my confusion was coming in. I assumed that because the erase option changed when I clicked between the partition and the physical drive it meant those were the two partitions.

    I haven't tested the drive yet...not on the Windows machine anyway. Both partitions are mounted as drives on my Mac though so so far, so good. I'll test on the PC in a few minutes.

    Is there a way to shrink down that FAT32 partition? Disk Utility won't let me go smaller than 32gb...
     
  13. mkrishnan Moderator emeritus

    mkrishnan

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    #13
    Hmmm, now that one's new -- I don't think I observed that before. Is it the same if you make the first partition the HFS instead of the FAT? (This shouldn't matter, I think -- just whether your PC can read GUID disks... if it can't, again, you'll need to use MBR).
     
  14. Errk! thread starter macrumors 6502

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    #14
    I'll try it and see, but in the mean time I figured out what I was seeing. Turns out the older drive is *not* GUID, it's Master Boot Record. D'oh. I was looking in the wrong place at the wrong thing.

    :eek:

    I changed this new drive to GUID and sure enough, was able to duplicate what I was seeing on the other drive.

    You're a kind soul. Sorry to have put you through all that, and thanks again for taking the time to explain it.
     

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