To FAT or not to FAT?
There's no requirement to format disks on the MPC before use. It is possible to strictly use DOS formated disks only.
If you use DOS disks you have to be aware of the following:
Can't use long filenames. This is easy to work around though. Just remeber to keep it 8 characters or less.
Can't put more than about 500 files in the root directory of a drive. This is a limitation to DOS itself (if formatted on the Akai, there is a higher limit but I have not hit it yet). Note that this applies only to the "root" of the drive and you can place more files in directories.
Can't create folders. However, you can create folders on a PC and the MPC can recognize and use these folders (usually).
Some benefits to using DOS format:
Don't have to worry about accidentally sticking a disk in computer and destroying the data.
Data can be read by computer. (well, a computer can read MPC formatted too, but it is a chance I do not take)
You can use your computer to backup the data.
If do try to read an MPC formatted disk with you PC you may see strange behavior. Akai based the file system for the original MPC's in a DOS3.x fashion. Will the MPC2k, they moved up to a DOS4.x system. Along the way Akai implemented their own format of using long filenames long before Microsoft even dreamed it up. Unfortunately for PC users, Microsoft did not follow Akai's model of using long filenames (imagine that!). So when a Windows reads a disk written to by the MPC, it will only read the first 8 characters. So if you have long filename with the using the first 8 characters they all look the same in Windows.
If you need to backup an MPC2000XL formatted disk that does
not have folders, do not use filenames longer than 8 characters, or use
like disk2file or WinHex that
creates a image file of drives like Zip regardless of the file system or folders
structure. I have started to prefer Winhex since it does not depend
on having an ASPI layfer in the system so it tends to be more compatible with
non-SCSI drives, such as USB.