How do I mount a FAT32 drive on Vista?
September 15, 2008 5:19 PM   Subscribe

I've got about 200 GB of files on my old Mac that I need to put on my shiny new Vista-running laptop. I've got a 300 GB USB drive. This should be easy...

I formatted the disk as FAT32 on my Mac and copied all the files over. I plug it into the PC, and I get nada. Research says Vista don't like FAT32 for big disks at all.

I know about convert x: /FS:NTFS (or whatever that command was) but the drive doesn't have a letter and I can't seem to give it one.

If I reformat the drive as NTFS, my Mac won't be able to read it, right? I'm not really comfortable with MacFUSE, and MacFusion (the GUI version) only comes with FTP and SSH support.

I've got Virtual PC running XP, and VirtualBox running Ubuntu. Will either of those help?
posted by Plug Dub In to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Try booting up an Ubuntu Hardy live CD on your new laptop with the external drive attached. With a little luck you'll be able to mount both your internal drive and the external drive, as Hardy is a little more forgiving with the drive formats sometimes and should be able to mount/write both FAT32 and NTFS without too much trouble (at least mine does).

And FYI, big FAT32 partitions haven't worked out well for me in the past. You may want to reformat it sometime to NTFS (more stable, but fragments) or ext3 (awesome, but Linux-only).

Good luck!
posted by expletivization at 5:30 PM on September 15, 2008

I've honestly found MacFUSE + NTFS-3G to be pretty solid on these kind of basic file operations. You can the most recent versions in DMG format.
posted by holgate at 5:47 PM on September 15, 2008

Possible solutions:

1) Partition it into smaller pieces that won't give Vista problems.

2) Format it for the mac (HFS+), then use MacDrive on Vista. MacDrive isn't free but you can use it as a demo for a few days for free. If you just want to transfer the stuff off this would be fine.

3) Transfer everything over the network. You'd be wise to master using rsync for this and do it over a dedicated 1G ethernet line (wireless would take ages).
posted by chairface at 5:49 PM on September 15, 2008

Response by poster: Freakin' brilliant, expletivization. Thank you! Files are copying as we speak. I plan on reformatting as NTFS once the copying is done.

holgate: MacFUSE makes me feel weird inside, but maybe I've only used old version with command-line trickery. Plus, I didn't want to reformat it and spend all night recopying things.
posted by Plug Dub In at 5:51 PM on September 15, 2008 [1 favorite]

Looks like you got it working, but it might be possible that the drive was partitioned with a GUID Partition Table instead of Master Boot Record. I'm not sure if it's still the same in Vista, but on XP under Computer Management -> Disk Management, you can see what type of parition the drive has.
posted by phrayzee at 6:57 PM on September 15, 2008

Just spreading the Ubuntu love, bro. ;]

NTFS has worked well for me on my TB external drive. I mainly just use it for video and backup so there isn't too much file resizing going on and thus not too much fragmentation.

Glad I could help!
posted by expletivization at 7:17 PM on September 15, 2008

Go for NTFS-3G and MacFUSE. They're rock solid now, and I actually have half of my external drive running on it. I use it for torrents from time to time, so that's a pretty good indicator for me, in terms of how stable it is.
posted by mccarty.tim at 11:44 AM on September 17, 2008

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