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Why does my 31 gig drive have only 10gig of space after formatting?

Question: I have an external hard disk with 3 partitions. On the last partition, when I tried to access it one day it said drive is not formatted and I can’t access my files in the drive. After I formatted the drive, from 31GB the free space is only 10GB. I tried to reformat it again and it’s still the same. The filesystem is fat32. Is there any way I can fix this? I bought the harddisk like a year ago.

The part that concerns me most is why did the behavior change? I assume that you were able to access the partition we’re talking about without problem before that.

Unfortunately in reformatting, you’ve probably lost any data that may have been out there. That’s partly what reformatting commonly does: erase the contents of the drive being formatted.

But I sense a little more confusion as well.

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You mention that the drive has three partitions. Partitions are simply a way to divide up the space on a single hard drive into different logical drives. So if, for example, your hard drive is 31gig in size, and has three equal sized partitions, then I’d expect each partition to be about 10gig in size.

When you reformat a drive, you’re really only reformatting one partition. So when you do that, it erases all the files on that partition, and the result is free space equal to the size of the partition.

In other words, if you have a 31gig drive, and three 10gig partitions, I’d expect pretty much what you’re seeing after you reformatted the drive.

Now, if what you mean is that the hard drive is larger than 31gig, and that the single partition on that hard drive should be 31gig, but formats out to only 10gig, then that’s a different problem entirely. In fact, I’m not even sure what kind of problem that might be.

If this is Windows XP, I’d start with the disk manager and see what it thinks you really have. Get to the disk manager by:

  • right click on My Computer
  • click on Manage
  • click on disk management

That will show you all the physical hard drives on your system and within each, the logical drives that each contains.

Once those expectations are cleared up, I would check with the manufacturer of that drive to see if they have any diagnostic software that you might run against it to help understand why the failure happened in the first place.

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9 comments on “Why does my 31 gig drive have only 10gig of space after formatting?”

  1. Leo,

    I had a similar problem and when I opened the disk management (XP-SP2) per your direction, I show 2.93 gig on my C drive NTFS partition -“Healthy (System)”, but then show 6.43 gig “unallocated”. That unallocated space doesn’t show up anywhere in windows explorer. I originally partitioned the drive with the intention of putting the OS on the C drive and have everything else on the other drive, but I must not have done it correctly because there is no other drive that shows up in windows explorer. What do I need to do now to get access to or use the rest of the space?

  2. You should be able to right click on the unallocated partition, mark it as active, and then format it. It should then appear as another drive.

  3. I have a laptop vaio vgn-a190 and it has the drive partitioned. The problem is, is that the c drive is full and there is 55 gigs on the partioned part labeled drive d. How do I take all that free space in drive d and put it in drive c?

  4. dear leo
    i have similar problem like Scott (apr 27, 2006). My Drive C is choking for space while D, E, F, G, H are having lots of space. how do i add some more gigs to C from the other partitions. i use XP-SP2, .NET Framework.


  5. I had the same problem and, while I couldn’t figure out how to do it without reformatting my computer, I did eventually reformat and allocated only 5GBs of the 60GBs I have to the D drive during the process. Not only did reformatting get rid of all the old junk and speed up my computer, but now I have those extra 30GBs of space to use.

  6. I want to reinstall the windows vista but the setup can’t see my hard disk to install windows it says thtat may be it is turned off but it works perfectly while i start windows.if any one can help me turn on my hard disk please send it to : my email thnk u very much

  7. hi mr leo ,i have some problme in my laptop,my laptop got problm befor ,it showed me 50 gb,when i bought it befor one year hard drive was 80 gb.
    when i formated it,it showed just 59 gb!!!where is the 21 gb gone? please can you help me for that,
    best regards

  8. For those of you who are installing a secondary hard drive on a desktop computer and if you face the problem that only 31 GB showing out of 80 or etc, here is what i did..

    First I changed the jumper setting. You can find the jumper between your IDE cable and the power cable (molex).. There would be a plastic cap covering on of the set of two pins.. I changed its position ( DO not place it on the Master) >> Turned on the computer >> Right Clicked on My computer >> Manage >> Disk Management under “Storage” >> Then all your hard drive would be listed there.. Disk 0 would be your Master drive and disk 1 will be your secondary drive>> Now following are the cases that are possible:

    Case one: Your disk is empty and you have “unallocated disk” written there under disk 1

    [b]Creating a partition[/b] Right click on unallocated partition and select “create partition”. After the partition is created, it will automatically format the drive.

    Case 2: If the partition is already there

    The partition is already there however the drive is showing only 31 GB out of 80 GB.

    You would have one more “unallocated drive” listed under Disk 1.
    > If this is not there, it means the jumper is not set on the right pins. Using trial and error method, change the jumper on another pin..Turn on your computer and see again under “Right click my computer >Manage> Storage >Disk Management” if “unallocated drive” option is there. Try till you get this option.

    After that follow the steps to create the partition as above.


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