Friday 2 March 2007

System Builder Tip: Acer Laptops, FAT32, and Two Partitions

I have spoken to Acer's support people for a variety of things over the years.

And, to date, none of them can answer why Acer does what they do with laptop hard disks from the factory.

Buy an Acer laptop and you get a machine with three partitions, the recovery partition that is only accessible via the backup utility, your system C: partition, and a data D: partition.

They are formatted FAT32.

No Vista folks. We would need to change that system partition to NTFS at the least.

Two very important aspects to this situation:

  1. Make changes to the partitioning scheme using one's favourite partition utility just after firing it up for the first time, and a couple of Acer's utilities might break, but for the most part all is good.
  2. Use that utility after installing Office, applications, updates, and more, and things BREAK!

That things break in the second situation puzzles me. If the D: partition was completely empty, other than the System Volume, why would things break?

Every time I have had to do this, I have had to run the repair/reinstall for Office, and other applications. Otherwise, the icons are blanks, Acrobat's icon and file icons are blanks, and so on.

The extra amount of time involved to prep a new laptop is an extra expense for our clients. Thus, Acer is "pricing" themselves out of sales.

Then what happens when people find out that in order to take advantage of their Vista upgrade they just received, they have to muck around with command line utilities, and risk loosing their data? Me thinks support is going to be inundated with calls for assistance with their Vista upgrades.

Perhaps FAT32 is just easier to work with and provides an opportunity for reduced support exposure?

Or maybe Acer's imaging tools are just that old.

Message to Acer: NTFS, not FAT32 is the way to go! ONE (1) partition, not two partitions please!

Philip Elder
Microsoft Small Business Specialists

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