How to convert from WBFS to FAT32 or NTFS

Discussion in 'Wii - Tutorials & FAQs' started by PsyBlade, May 12, 2011.

May 12, 2011
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    PsyBlade Snake Charmer

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    How to convert from WBFS to FAT32 or NTFS

    This tutorial will show you how to convert a partition:
    • without losing your games
    • without copying somewhere else and back
    • without ripping them again
    • do in a few minutes (with good PC experience)
    • do it without much experience

    1. Introduction

    WBFS partitions have been around for a long time. They were the earliest way to run Backups from USB and SD.
    But they have some drawbacks. For example you can not store homebrew programs, movies or any other types of files on them.
    To do that you would need to partition the drive. But in that case you have to know beforehand how much space you will need for which purpose.
    Another Problem with WBFS is that windows permanently asks to format it. One incautious click by a friend and everything is gone.

    This was overcome by the ability to use FAT and later even NTFS and EXT2,3,4. FAT support is included in most Loaders nowadays and has no drawbacks compared to WBFS.

    One of the problems of WBFS that persists is its lack of proper filesystem utilities.
    If you still have a legacy WBFS drive it is hard to convert to something else and can't be grown or shrunk in size.

    This tutorial will try to make it as easy and fast as possible to convert to FAT32. There these problems do not exist.

    You could of course rerip all you discs or use a WBFS Manager to copy all games to another drive and back again.
    But this will need a LOT of patience in the first case or free space on your PC and still a lot of time in the second.

    Instead we will convert the drive directly, without copying all of its data, yet still retaining all games.
    This is also known as "in place" conversion, and common in other filesystems (see eg. "Partition Magic")
    The fact that most data remains untouched makes this process ridiculously fast, compared to other methods.
    I converted a full 50GiB drive in 4.2 seconds. Thats over 10GiB/s!

    While this tutorial will convert WBFS to FAT32, other filesystems are available from there.
    Windows for example can already do FAT to NTFS without losing data (search for "convert" in Windows Help (F1))


    2. Tutorial

    I suggest you first read this tutorial completely, then ask any questions and only then go ahead and do it.

    2.1 The Requirements

    First you will need some programs:
    The converter itself is called "wbfs2fat" and available here in the GBAtemp forum
    It will run under Windows and Linux (and possibly more).

    For Windows there is a pre packaged wbfs2fat.exe with everything you need.

    On Linux you are probably already good too. The only things needed are "python 2.x" and "sudo". Both are installed by default in many distributions.
    To run the GUI you will need "pyqt4" too. If you miss one of them, open you package manager and search for them. They will be in there. Ask around if you don’t find them.

    Alternative the the .exe you can run the .py file on Windows too. Both native Python and Cygwin's are supported.
    But I think that's only interesting if you want to dig into the code. Additional requirements for doing this are listed in the "readme.txt".

    While not strictly a requirement I strongly suggest you get [m]wiimm[/m]s wwt+wit.
    Its used for most of the optional parts of this tutorial.

    I suggest you now use "wwt" to check the drive for any filesystem errors (option "CHECK" and if you have time "VERIFY" too).
    I prefer using it but other WBFS Managers might offer that too.
    Additionally you might want to copy "that game the dog ate" on you PC just to be absolutely sure.


    2.2 GUI

    Simply run wbfs2fat without any parameters or with "--mode gui". The other parameters are supported too (see CLI if you want)

    You get a window which lists all detected partitions.
    [IMG]
    Depending on system setup you might need to do it as administrator/root. Access denied errors here on are a sign of this.
    To do this e.g.. right click the icon and select "run as administrator" or use "sudo" on Linux.

    If the partition you want to convert is missing you can type its path into the "device" line and click "scan"

    Select the one you want to convert by clicking on it and click the "convert to Fat32" button.

    Now you can adjust some options. The defaults should do fine but feel free to change them.
    [IMG]
    Click OK when you are done.

    Wait a few seconds for it to complete. It will report its progress and any anomalies as it goes.
    Check its output carefully for any errors.
    [IMG]
    Once you see "W2F: Conversion completed" its done. Click "Close".


    2.3 CLI

    Alternative to the graphical one there is a command line interface too.

    Run "./wbfs2fat.py --mode scan" to get a list of all WBFS partitions.
    If you only get "permission denied" try running it as administrator, or on Linux run "sudo ./wbfs2fat.py --mode scan" instead.
    It will give you a line for each WBFS partition, consisting of a device identifier, its size and the number of games on it.
    Find the device name for the partition you want. For example "/dev/sdc2".
    If your partition is listed twice, once without number, and once with a "1", just use the one without. That's a slight oddity in cygwin.

    To see what additional options are available run "./wbfs2fat.py --help"
    Under cygwin and linux you will want to use the respective renaming option. Under non-cygwin windows that’s not neccessary.
    Normally the backup if created in the current directory but there's an option to select another dir.

    To convert the partition run "./wbfs2fat.py --mode convert <dev> " along with any other options you want.
    <dev> is the device name for the WBFS partition in question. For example running "./wbfs2fat.py --mode convert /dev/sdc1 -b /cygdrive/d/ -l e" will
    • convert the partition /dev/sdc1
    • make a backup in /cygdrive/d/ (which is D:\)
    • rename the files using the drive letter e (as in E:\)
    Wait a few seconds for it to complete. It will report its progress and any anomalies as it goes.
    Check its output carefully for any errors.


    2.4 Finishing Touches

    Once it is run through the partition is FAT32 and can be accessed normally.
    Before you go ahead I suggest running all checks you like against it NOW.
    That is because using the drive normally can overwrite parts anywhere on the drive. Including parts not in the backup.
    That is just normal operation and not a problem per se, but it will make the backup invalid.
    Some suggestions are chkdsk, fsck.vfat, the windows filesystem check (in the rightclick menu of the drive letter),...
    You can check the games too, for example using "wit"s "VERIFY" function.

    I advise against letting these tools "repair" anything, instead it is better to restore the backup.
    Excepted from this rule is the uninitialized free cluster summary.
    It is expected and can be fixed without repercussions, it's not really an error in the first place.

    The games will be stored as .wbfs files splitted by ~4GiB.
    They are inside a folder named wbfs in the root of the drive and are named ID6.wbfs (e.g. "E:\wbfs\RSPDS.wbfs").
    Well if you enable the automatic renaming that is. If not you will have to do it manually.
    Create the folder, move them, and rename *.0 to*.wbfs, *.1 to wbf1, *.2 to *.wbf2 and so on.

    That's it, you are done. Close cygwin/the console and try it on your wii. Don't forget to unmount/eject it normally.


    3. The Backup

    During execution a line will be printed saying "WARNING: start of dangerous part"
    This line only means that the first write has occurred. Any crash, abort or whatever before that did not change the drive AT ALL.
    While they cause no further harm they might indicate a larger problem. I suggest you ask for advice (e.g. here on GBAtemp).

    To recover from a crash during the dangerous part a backup is created.
    It contains everything that was overwritten in the process (only some megabytes anyway).

    But it does not contain what eg your later deleting/creating of files did change.
    It is only intended in case wbfs2fat fails, not for later. There is simply no way to foresee which games you might delete manually.
    Restoring a backup later will cause massive data loss. Especially after things that move data around like defrag.
    But when used before writing to the partition with other tools it carries no risk.

    The backup function is the most tested part of the program. That's because it allows rapid resets too.
    Copying its 6MiB back is A LOT faster than creating and filling a new 50GiB WBFS partition for each test.

    To restore the Backup simply use the "restore Backup" button in the GUI or the "--restore=BACKUP" CLI option.
    By default the Backups are located in the folder from where you ran wbfs2fat and named "wbfs.DEVICE.TIMESTAMP.back".

    The backup is a complete image of the first N blocks of the drive, where N is whatever was needed to contain the FAT metadata.
    Thus it can be restored easily using the image tool of your choice too.
    For example using "dd if=<backup_file> of=<device>" (dd is available in cygwin and most Linux Distributions by default)


    4. Space

    The conversion requires some free space (it's checked automatically).
    It will need approximatively 0.02% (2MiB per 10GiB) of the partition size plus one WBFS Block per game.
    Once the partition is converted you can gain space back by scrubbing the games again (should net a gain on big partitions)
    My suggestion is to use e.g. "wit CONVERT -Bz E:\wbfs\" but maybe other manager can do that to.
    You can of course skip or postpone this step. In fact I suggest waiting, because it of course writes data (see "The Backup).


    5. Where to go from here

    Now that your drive is FAT32 you can manipulate it by a variety of tools.
    These Tools include Partition Magic, Parted Magic, "convert" and others.
    Using the internet you should find everything you need.

    Functions seen in better partitioning tools include:
    • resizing of partitions without losing data
    • joining/merging of two partitions into one that contains the files and space of both
    • splitting of one partition into two while dividing the files and space between them as you like
    • changing the filesystem again (e.g. NTFS) without losing data.
    If you only want to go on to NTFS, Windows has everything you need.
    It can already change a partition from FAT to NTFS without losing data.
    The tool is named "convert" and runs from the Windows Command console("cmd").
    Search Windows Help (F1) for a detailed explanation of "convert".


    6. Misc

    You can test wbfs2fat on filesystem images first. Simply enter its filename instead of a device name.
    No idea how to test/mount the resulting Fat32 image under Windows. Under Linux use "mount -o loop IMAGE SOMEDIR"

    I hereby grant licence to host this howto to everyone, given that he
    • includes a notice of the original authorship
    • marks any changes as such
    • includes a link to the original source (the 3. one below) to allow users to receive updates
    • includes a link to wbfs2fat (eg. the 2. one below (because of updates too))
    • only includes download links to wbfs2fat which are compliant with its licence
    If you have a reason to want different terms simply ask, my mind is not set in stone.

    Please post comments to wbfs2fat itself (as opposed to this guide) in the discussion thread.


    7. Links

    Homepage/Discussion Thread
    Detailed Tutorial/Howto
    GUI demo video


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    terminal_illness Dark Hadou Master

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    awesome, ive been looking for a tut like this, im dying to switch my wii from dual part. wbfs & Fat32
    to just fat32. thank you im gonna try this when i get home from work tonight.
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    neotank19 New Member

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    Nicely written and informative tutorial.
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    ATMB New Member

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    My question, since I didn't understand well from the tutorial:

    once I convert from WBFS to FAT32, the files with size bigger than 4 GiB will be automatically splitted? Should I do some other action to ensure the split is being done right?
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    PsyBlade Snake Charmer

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    The big files are split automatically during conversion.
    The point of spliting is depends on the original wbfs: 4GiB - 1WBFS-Block.
    Unless you want a different split point you do not have to do a thing.
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    pepxl GFX W!Z4RD

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    woop, any idead what goimg on here

    W2F: checking for WBFS
    W2F: analysing WBFS
    W2F: creating FAT filesystem
    W2F: creating placeholder Files
    W2F: linking used Blocks to Files
    W2F: creating Backup of overlap
    WARNING: start of dangerous part
    W2F: creating WBFS File Headers
    W2F: relocating overlaping Blocks
    W2F: writing FAT to Disk
    W2F: end of dangerous part
    W2F: moving Files to destination
    ERROR

    EDIT

    Checked the drive contents and this is what it looks like

    [IMG]
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    Link1213 New Member

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    Hmm I have the same problem as pepxl. I get an error and the contents look the same. Anyone know how to fix it?
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    PsyBlade Snake Charmer

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    something went wrong with renaming the files
    but your games are fine

    rename all .0 files to .wbfs, .1 to .wbf1, ...
    and move them into the wbfs folder

    the bug is fixed in version 0.8.1
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    rogerde New Member

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    Hi all, new guy just joined. Sent here by a friend as i'm having problems as soon as i start program.
    My Wbfs drive (E) shows up inprogram but it say's (Status) permission denied?
    Unless i'm reading the tutorial wronge or missed this bit, how do i get around this as i cant do anything.
    Using windows7 Laptop.

    Great site by the way, never heard of this site till yesterday. Loads of great tutorials.

    rogerde
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    PsyBlade Snake Charmer

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    If that doesn't help try closing all other programs that might access the drive.
    As a last resort try another PC or a live-CD/USB system.
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    rogerde New Member

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    PsyBlade. Thanks for reply.

    Tried running as administrator but still say's permission denied. Only had wbfs2fat running, nothing eles.
    Not sure what you meen by (or a live-cd/usb system.

    Thanks again.
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    PsyBlade Snake Charmer

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    An operating system that runs from CD, DVD, USB or similar. It does not require instalation or other permanent changes to your PC.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Live-CD
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    Dan_Aykroyd New Member

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    Is WBFS better in some way than FAT32? I'm on the former and for some reason I'm resilient to migrate to FAT...

    Considering that I'm only using that HD for Wii games, what do you think is "better" overall: simplicity when copying, no need to split files, speed, stability, etc.: WBFS or FAT32? I'm trying to find a reasong to satisfy my OCD by knowing that WBFS is better in some way (for me) and not convert it to FAT :)

    Thanks; great tut by the way
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    ddetkowski New Member

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    I USED to use WBFS, until I transferred a game which corrupted my drive, and lost everything at once!
    WBFS is technically dead, FAT32 is stable, if you have a problem with a game it does'nt corrupt your entire drive, and using Wii Backup Manager for transfers, etc, AUTOMATICALLY splits your iso's, wbfs, etc for you. Just ask xflak how much better FAT32 is compared to WBFS. if your still using it, and no problems, you are lucky. oh, and windows sees all your files on the drive, too, avi's, mp3's, etc can be stored on it.
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    PsyBlade Snake Charmer

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    Imho Fat32 is way better. In ALL regards.
    For wii games you will probably stick to using WBM (or another manager) and don't know the difference. But what for me was the most important gain is the ability to store all kinds of files.
    Simply open up explorer and instead of naging you do destroy your backups you can simply copy movies, music, roms or whatever you want to use on your wii.
    You can even copy wii games that way if you want to and the have been converted to *.wbfs files before.

    For wii games the maximum file size does not matter and for othe files a maximum file size of 4GiB is a lot better then the 0B of WBFS.
    The only files that big that you might want to use on your wii are HD-movies. But the wii can't output 720p (or bigger) anyway.

    Aditionally you loose the two biggest security threads to your games.
    On wbfs its possible to loose games if you delete other games with the wrong tool (unfortnatly there is no overview which tools are bad).
    And that stupid windows box asking you to format it is gone. That thing was a major problem if you ever let someone else near your PC/HDD (or use it while sleepy/drunk).
    The recovery tools are better too in case something does go wrong.
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    mabeard New Member

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    okay new bee here. I have found the .ex. application for windows but why will it not open? I get a black screen with some writting on it but it is up only for a split second so I can not read it. What am I doing wrong?
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    PsyBlade Snake Charmer

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    that should not happen
    you should get a 2nd window with the gui

    try running it from a command prompt to read the text

    perhaps you are only missing some dll

    post the text if you can't fix it
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    mabeard New Member

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    okay i got it working. I did not extract the file that was the problem

    so please baer with me.... i can not convert because the wbfs is corrupt error 6. i would like to fix this but can not make heads or tails of the guide on how to operate wit wwt any help would be appreciated
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    PsyBlade Snake Charmer

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    if you cant get wwt to work you can use the ignore-error-6 option to convert it regardless
    but you have to check the games afterward with WBM (sha1 check iirc) or wit
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    mabeard New Member

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