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I've got a problem with a couple hard drives, I recently switched from a Debian Linux install to Windows 7, installation went without problems but now I find that there is no way to format a couple of hard drives I have installed:

one is a Hitachi 1TB with two partitions both NTFS formatted and I can access only one of the two.

the second is a WDD 800GB, it contains one full partition EXT3 formatted, so that's not a surprise that is not recognized.

The problem here is that Windows recognizes the two drives and lists them in the control panel's devices list but doesn't allow me to do any action on them. AFAIK the problem with the first drive first partition (which is NTFS formatted) has something to do with MBR, maybe Linux messed with it and Windows 7 is incapable of using it.

My first course of action will be recovering the data in the first partition and moving it to the second, but after that how can I format the two drives? Do I have to reinstall the whole OS and use the partition manager of Windows 7 installer or are there other ways?

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4 Answers

If you only want to format these drives for use with Windows 7, and don't care about any data that is on them currently, there is no need to install any additional software.

Hit the Windows key, type disk management into the search box, and then press Enter. This will present you with a window that will show the disks and allow you to format and/or partition them. You can also set up advanced features like software raid and more from here. The only thing you will not be able to do from here is mount these disks as they are, because about the only file systems Windows understands are FAT, NTFS, and the various optical formats.

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Try the free EXT file system driver for Windows:

  Ext2 Installable File System For Windows
  http://www.fs-driver.org/

Hopefully that will allow you to access the ext3 formatted volume in addition to replacing it with NTFS.

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Ensuring you are making it only to that(those disks) disk and not your system one, you have several options:

First of all, Testdisk, which is free, and serves for many things: http://www.cgsecurity.org/wiki/TestDisk

MBRFix (free(donation)) http://www.sysint.no/products/Download/tabid/536/language/nb-NO/Default.aspx

CLIfreeware version of MBRWizzard. http://firesage.com/mbrwizard.php

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You probably need to set the partition type of the partition to the file system you formated it with also. Linux does not care that much about it whereas Windows fails to read out partitions if the type is not set correctly. There are various tools to accomplish this, from the Linux shell you could use fdisk for example.

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