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Please help with fat32 to ntfs boo-boo....

by mrpuddy / February 27, 2007 2:46 AM PST

Hi all, Great forum! I may have made a terrible mistake recently when, in an effort to help a friend, I backed up her old drive which I believe was fat32, to a brand new Maxtor 200 gigabite drive. Of course, we were in a hurry, so I did not format the new drive..... I am assuming that the new drive right out of the box would already BE ntfs, but I'm not sure. Now that I have upgraded her old drive to xp-pro, her computer will not read ANY of the files that we backed up on the maxtor. I'm ASSUMING the problem is that the backed-up data is Fat32 and since the new o.s. is ntfs, it cannot read it? I am also assuming that all I have to do is CONVERT the files on the back-up from Fat32 to ntsf, and all will be well.......Any thoughts? MUCH appreciated! CM

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Problem is somewhere else,
by ahtoi / February 27, 2007 2:55 AM PST

the xp os should be able to read fat32. What kind of indication are you getting?

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by jackson dougless / February 27, 2007 2:58 AM PST

If you installed Win2K or XP, then it should have no problem reading FAT32 partitions, and do any and all conversions necessary on the fly, completely transparently.

What it sounds like, is the backup drive has some issues. Could be a corrupted filesystem, damage to the disk, or a number of other things. There are some file recovery programs out there you can try, but you probably won't be able to recover everything. The other alternative, is sending the drive off to professional recovery services. That costs around 2000USD, so it's really only an option if the data is very important. There's also still no guarantee of 100% recovery.

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Boot to a Linux live CD such as Knoppix...
by linkit / February 27, 2007 3:05 AM PST

...and attempt to access the files. Don't convert FAT32 to NTFS because that procedure is not without risk of data loss.

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Tell us more...
by Edward ODaniel / February 27, 2007 3:06 AM PST

You have said "Of course, we were in a hurry, so I did not format the new drive..... I am assuming that the new drive right out of the box would already BE ntfs, but I'm not sure. " and that only leads to questions because a new drive isn't formatted at all normally excepting external in some cases.

Tell us EXACTLY how you "backed up her old drive" (did you use a backup program and if so which one).

Tell us more about this "brand new Maxtor 200 gigabite drive" (was it OEM, retail packaged, internal or external).

If you backed up using backup software you normally need to have that installed in order to restore files from the back up archive. If you backed up by creating an image of drive or partition again you need the same software to restore the image.

The file system is NOT your problem.

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Exactly how I did it.....
by mrpuddy / February 27, 2007 5:44 AM PST
In reply to: Tell us more...

Hi. Thanks for all the replies! The computer where the info was, is an old laptop,A Toshiba,running windows 98. I simply plugged in a brand-new-right-out of the-box maxtor 2oogb external hard drive. I then selected the files one at a time and sent them over to the external drive from the laptop. When we were done, I unplugged the external hard drive and proceeded to zero out the laptop's drive, then re-loaded win xp pro. Like a true bone-head, I did not format the external drive before I moved everything over to it. My friend says that she has plugged the external drive into the laptop, tried to read the files, but is comes out as compu-gibberish... I have not yet been able to look at the computer and get the actual message from the screen, but I will do so asap. I tried to help a friend.... I hope I have'nt destroyed her data..... CM

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by mrpuddy / February 27, 2007 5:51 AM PST

Hi after reading your answers again, I think I need to clarify.... She only wanted to save a few selected files, pictures and letters etc. etc. not the entire drive. So we selected about 3g's worth of data and sent them, one file at a time, over to the external drive...... unplugged it... zeroed the laptop, the laptop with xp pro. and everything was fine. When she tried to move the files from the exteranl drive back to laptop, she got unreadable data. I'm going over to her house soon and try it myself, and take carefull notes, and get back to all of you. Thanks again for your help and advice! You guys art great!

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update on problem...
by mrpuddy / February 27, 2007 9:43 PM PST

Hi all. Ok I've looked at her files from the external drive... not too bad... We can retrieve all photos and most text BUT there are a large number of text files (written in wordpad from win98) that won't open with win xp pro. The message is: "cannot open word for windows 6.0" and that's it. Of course these are the REALLY important files that she needs ASAP. I have a sneaking susspicion that there is an easy fix for this.... any ideas? Mucho thanks! CM

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Open the problem text files with Notepad...
by Edward ODaniel / February 28, 2007 5:49 AM PST
In reply to: update on problem...

and you can copy and save the text but you have to hunt through the file for the text blocks.

You might also be able to open them using WordPad.

What it sounds like is that she had MS Word installed in her original configuration and after the reinstall of the OS the MS Word was not reinstalled.

If she doesn't have the installation disks you can download OpenOffice ( ) and install it on her computer and it will read the Word 6 files.

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