How to change HDD cluster size without formatting?

Discussion in 'Computer Hardware, Devices and Accessories' started by Cawk, Mar 16, 2013.

  1. Cawk

    Cawk Member

    Jan 4, 2010
    United States
    I need to change the cluster size on my FAT32 500gb external hard drive from 64kb to 32kb without formatting. I've already got 199gb of stuff on there, and I DO NOT want to lose it all. I can't move it to my computer either because there's not enough space. I've already tried the free versions of acronis and minitool, and you have to pay for those programs to change the cluster size.

    Anybody know how I can do this for free?
  2. FAST6191

    FAST6191 Techromancer

    pip Reporter
    Nov 21, 2005
    United Kingdom
    There is no simple tool that I am aware of and probably will not be a paid one either (the theory is simple enough but in practice it could take forever). Workarounds using simple tools should be possible though
    Your best bet if you can not find the space otherwise is probably to get a version of gparted or (both available on Hiren's boot CD and UBCD- , if you are doing things like this in 2013 you want a copy of each of those).

    Once there you will have access to a program called gparted. Shrink the partition down as much as you can (if you have some space on your PC then use that*) and format the newly made blank space with FAT32- 64K clusters (should be able to do it there and then). Copy the data across and drop the newly vacated 199 gig partition before growing the new one back up to include the space from the 199. As an added bonus you have probably just effectively defragged the hard drive.

    *this is not without risk so if you can shuffle it around to things you can afford to lose (it is never nice to lose data but some is more valuable than others).

    I must ask though if there a reason you are still on FAT32 (it is horribly limiting in this day and age and with not a lot of effort just about every OS can support every other big filesystem) and is there are particular reason why you feel a larger cluster size will help you any?