Expert computing advice (Part 3) - File-system conversion

4/4/2012 5:39:54 PM
Expert computing advice (Part 3)

File-system conversion

I want to format my Windows 7 PC, but its hard drive contains 200GB of files that I must first transfer to my external hard drive. The problem is this drive uses a FAT32 system, which won’t let me transfer any file larger than 4GB, and I can’t convert it to NTFS as it already has files stored on it. Is there a way to convert my external drive from FAT32 to NTFS without losing the data stored on it?

Description: File-system conversion

Windows induces a utility for converting FAT32-formatted drives to NTFS. It takes a few minutes to run and is usually reliable, but we wouldn’t recommend using it without having backed up your files. If something goes wrong, you stand to lose a lot of data or endure a lengthy file-recovery process.

The convert.exe command line utility can convert a drive partition from at2 to NTFS, keeping all data intact. Note that it can’t convert in the opposite direction, from NTFS to FAT32. You will need to be logged in with administrative privileges to use it.

After you’ve backed up your files, head to the start menu and type cmd into the search box. Right-click cmd.exe in the results pane and select ‘run administrator’ to open o command prompt. In the following example, our system drive is drive c and the NTFS drive is drive e: substitute the correct drive letters for your personal setup.

It’s important to select the correct drive letter for conversion. Within the command prompt type e:, then DIR, and press Enter. This will show you the list of files and folders on the drive in question so you can verily that it’s the correct drive.

Now enter the following commands, pressing enter after each line:

Convert e:/fs:ntfs

As a safety precaution, you may be prompted to enter the volume label for your hard drive. Ours is called “USB disk”; you should substitute this with the name of your drive and press enter.

This process may take a while depending on the size, speed and content of the drive you’re converting. When it’s finished, you’ll receive a conversion complete’ message.

An easier, but more expensive, option is to purchase a new NTFS-formatted external hard drive and transfer the contents of your old drive to it. You can then convert the old drive to NTFS and use it to back up files stored on the new drive.

2010 security software

My friend gave me a copy of BullGuard Internet Security 2010. My PC was protected at the time, so I didn’t immediately install it. However, the licence for my current protection is about to expire. Can I still install the BullGuard Security suite or is it out of date now that version 2011 is available?

We checked with Bullguard, Gemma, and it said your licence period begins when the software is installed, not when the suite was bought. This licence is also valid on newer versions of the software, which we recommend you plump for instead of the slightly older suite you have a disc for.

You can download the latest version of the security suite. BullGuard Internet Security 2012, from Use your existing licence key to activate the software.

Maximising memory

I installed 8GB of DDR3 memory in my Windows 7 computer, but the system information in control panel reports that only 3.25GB is installed. How can i make Windows see the full 8GB for gaming purposes?

It sounds as though you’re using a 32bit version of Windows 7 (you can check this in the same screen as you verified the amount of installed memory; head to control panel, system and security, system). In order for your computer to take advantage of 4GB or more of RAM, you need to be running a 64bit edition of Windows. Unfortunately, it isn’t possible to upgrade from a 32 to 64bit installation as you would train 64bit Windows Vista to 64bit Windows 7. You’ll instead need to back up all your files and settings, then perform a clear installation of the operating system.

This step is becoming less necessary as more software and peripherals are designed to operate with 64bit operating systems, but it’s worth checking that all your software and hardware drivers will continue to work.

Depending on how you purchased your copy of Windows 7, you may find an installation disc for the 64bit edition in the box. Otherwise, you’ll need to fork out for a new copy of the software.

Which smartphone?

My Sony Ericsson Xperia X1 smartphone is on its last legs. I regularly use its slide-out keyboard, while I find Microsoft’s mobile apps helpful for synching emails, contacts and calendar appointments with my laptop. I want to upgrade to something similar, and I believe the HTC 7 pro and Nokia e7 are the only phones available that run Windows phone 7. Out which is best?

Also, I heard that Microsoft was planning to add the ability to cut and paste copy, and to directly which smartphone?

Sync emails and other files with a laptop to Windows phone 7. Do you know when these update will be available?

Finally, can I sync my Lotus Notes business calendar with my personal Outlook calendar?

Description: Sony Ericsson Xperia X1

Nokia’s e7 runs the Symbian rather than Windows phone 7 operating system. If you insist on using Microsoft’s mobile platform, the HTC 7 pro is the correct choice out of the two phones you mention. However, a new generation of Windows phone 7 ‘Mango’ phones is launching now. Visit our website at for more details.

You’ll be pleased to hear that cut and paste is now supported by Windows phone 7, but direct synching between Windows Phone and Windows 7 is not currently possible. You might instead like to sync files via the web:

If you have a Windows live account you can upload files to SkyDrive, then access them from a web browser on any machine that’s connected to the internet.

Emails are synched to the phone in the same way: via the web. They are accessible on your PC or laptop using a web browser.

There are no plans for a version of Lotus Notes Traveller for Windows phone 7, most current methods of synching lotus notes with outlook involve importing your data into Google and then back out again. Have a look at companion link express ( or accessing lotus notes email from Windows phone 7.

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