Win 7 wrongly appearing as FAT32?

Discussion in 'Windows, Linux & Others on the Mac' started by Werewolf01, Dec 1, 2015.

  1. Werewolf01 macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2013
    Hi again all. Once again coming back to Macrumors forums for bootcamp migration difficulties. The story this time is that my brand new retina MBP got wet and ended up with a fried logic board. Good news is repair folks were able to salvage all the data--both partitions, one mac and one bootcamp win7--onto an external drive and I got a replacement laptop for a modest fee.

    The challenge now is getting all the data off the external HD and back onto the new computer. Migrating the mac partition was easy but as expected migrating the win7 partition is considerably more difficult. In the past I had success with Winclone when I migrated the partition to the 2015 retina mbp in the first place from my old 2011 mbp, so I'm giving that a try again, but when I try to make an image Winclone gives me an error that the win7 partition is formatted as FAT32. Disk Utility and the diskutil command in terminal both confirm as much.

    But I know that's false. I'm pretty sure bootcamp only lets you format win7 as NTFS to begin with, but even if there were a choice I would certainly have chosen NTFS because I know FAT32 is terribly antiquated.

    Does anyone know what could possibly be causing my mac to recognize the win7 partition as FAT32?

    Alternatively, has there been any recent developments in bootcamp migration options that I should be considering in place of winclone altogether?

    Thanks much in advance.
  2. maflynn Moderator


    Staff Member

    May 3, 2009
    When you run the bootcamp assistant, its create a Fast32 partition. What you want to do, start the install process, so you can then reformat the partition to NTFS. You can then quit/reboot out of the install and go the Winclone route.
  3. Werewolf01 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2013
    Hi there maflynn, thanks for posting.

    My issue with winclone is that my mac thinks the source win7 partition, the recovered data from my fried laptop that I'm trying to image and migrate, is wrongfully recognized as FAT32 by my computer and by winclone (when it should definitely be NTFS). Winclone can't make an image of a FAT32 partition (or a partition it thinks is FAT32). The destination partition on my computer, well I haven't created it yet.

    You're saying bootcamp assistant can reformat the source partition to NTFS? I didn't know that was possible. I'll have to give it a try and come back with my results.
  4. chscag macrumors 68000

    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    That's likely where the partition was formatted to FAT-32 as Windows 7 will not install to a FAT partition. And yes, the Boot Camp Assistant initially formats the partition created for a Windows install to FAT-32 and later when you choose the installation location, it formats it to NTFS. This is the step that so many new users inadvertantly wind up formatting their OS X partition to NTFS by mistake.
  5. Werewolf01 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2013
    That sorta makes sense, I never thought about that. Maybe when the repair guys were salvaging the data and copying both partitions to an external HD, maybe that's when the win7 partition became FAT32. I thought it was a problem with my computer mistakenly recognizing it as FAT32 when it really wasn't, like this guy:

    Glad to know Boot Camp Assistant will take care of the destination, but maybe I should just convert the source partition back to NTFS so Winclone can copy it? Will that damage it somehow? Guess I should make a backup too. :confused:

    But if it's actually FAT32 and not mistakenly portrayed as such, I guess it would be as simple a matter as converting it to NTFS, if I could figure out a way to do so.
  6. chscag macrumors 68000

    Feb 17, 2008
    Fort Worth, Texas
    You'll need a Win machine to do that. I don't believe there are any Mac utilities which can do the conversion.
  7. Werewolf01, Dec 5, 2015
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2015

    Werewolf01 thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2013
    So it turns out you were right after all--I thought the external drive was wrongly showing up as fat32 when it really wasn't, as I knew I never created my original bootcamp partition it that way, like you said Windows 7 can only install to an NTFS drive. But it turns out the external drive WAS actually fat32 the whole time, so when the tech folks salvaged the data off my ruined laptop onto the external drive they must have copied the windows stuff to a fat32 partition for some reason.

    The way I was able to figure it out (and fix the problem) was to do a fresh bootcamp install of windows 7 on my mac with a very small partition (50gb), just as a temporary measure so I could get into windows and subsequently use the cmd prompt. Within windows, Chkdsk confirmed the external drive's win7 partition was formatted as FAT32, and so I was able to use Convert to reformat it to NTFS with no hassle or data loss.

    Winclone is currently imaging the win7 partition off the external drive as I type this. When it's done, I'll delete the temporary bootcamp I made for the conversion, then re-create a much larger bootcamp and Winclone it all over.

    Thanks again for the tips.

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