Users often are confronted by issues with file sizes on their computers. These can manifest themselves as Captures that cut out at about the 4GB size, or perhaps they receive an error message that a HDD (Hard Disk Drive) is "full," when they know that it is not. In most cases, the cause is that that particular HDD is formatted as FAT-32 and not NTSF. Most externals ship with FAT-32, and some internals are set up that way still.
With modern OS's, like XP, Vista and Win7, there is little to no need to have an HDD formatted as FAT-32*. Windows provides an easy to use utility, Convert, to take care of this. It will safely convert (hence its name) the formatting of the HDD from FAT-32 to NTSF, without loosing data already on that HDD, unlike the Format command.
Convert is invoked from the Start>Run and will open a Command Line (DOS) dialog box. In XP-Pro, the line is: convert [Drive Letter]: /fs:ntfs, where the Drive Letter would be your HDD's assigned Drive Letter, say G:\. In that example, the line would read: convert G: /fs:ntfs. Note: spaces are important. Also, in the very next line, the user will be asked to furnish the exact Volume Name for that HDD. This is necessary as a fail-safe measure. Before you invoke Convert, go to Windows Explorer/My Computer, and write down the HDD's Volume Name - capitalization is very important. In my case, G:\ was MAXTOR1.
If one has data on the HDD, I feel that it is always prudent to copy that data to a safe place, just in case something goes very wrong. While Convert has been 100% for me, I hate the thought of possibly loosing data, just because of a clumsy keystorke on my part - backup to be safe.
When finished, the CMD window will close, and the formatting can be checked in Windows Explorer/My Computer>Properties. It will no longer say FAT-32, but will instead say NTSF. This will now allow one to write files over the 4GB limit and it will also be faster.
* The only reasons for NOT Converting from FAT-32 to NTSF is if that HDD will be used on computers with FAT-32 only OS's. This could be an external that also must be connected to a computer running Windows 98, or similar. It would also apply if one was using that HDD to go to a Mac, as they can only see a Windows formatted disk with FAT-32. Note: this will likely soon change with newer Mac OS's, but through Leopard is still in place. If you use your external between older computers, or between Mac's and PC's, you will want to leave the formatting at FAT-32, but just be aware of the 4GB file size limit.
Hope that this helps someone,