NTFS can read FAT32 files.

What I would do is move all these important documents to the new hard drive or some other removable drive. Then format the drive with Vista to NTFS. Now copy, not move these files back to the external. Voila.

How to reformat it? In Vista's excuse for Explorer, find the drive and right click it. The option should be there.

A word of caution here. What are your plans when that external drive crashes? Get my meaning? Never have one copy of any important file. All my "stuff" that I do not want to loose is in at least two places and in some cases three. My web site for example is on my server here. A copy resides on optical media and another copy on an external drive. I'll never see a failure of all three locations.