How To Convert A Hard Drive From FAT32 To NTFS

Windows: If you use external drives or flash drives often, you've probably reformatted between NTFS and FAT32 tons of times. Here's how to convert a drive FAT32 to NTFS without losing any of your files.

FAT32 and NTFS are the two most common file systems that Windows users have to deal with. NTFS is probably what your regular drive is formatted as, but it isn't great for flash drives or external hard drives that need to interface with Mac and Linux, since Mac and Linux can only read NTFS drives — not write to them. FAT32, on the other hand, is readable and writable in all three OSes. Its only downside is that you can't store files bigger than 4GB on it.

As such, I find myself reformatting my external drives all the time to fit the situation. With just a simple command in Windows, though, you can actually convert a FAT32 drive to NTFS without reformatting entirely (and thus losing all your data). If you want to convert the filesystem without losing your files, just open up a command prompt in administrator mode and then type:

convert G: /FS:NTFS

It'll take awhile, but you won't have to re-copy any of your data or reformat the drive.

Sadly, there is no way to convert from NTFS to FAT32 — if you want to go back, you'll have to reformat the drive entirely. This trick is still pretty nice, though, as it'll save you from reformatting your drive about half the time.

How to Convert a Hard Drive or Flash Drive from FAT32 to NTFS Format [How-To Geek]


    Don't know which Linux you're referring to, and I would presume it's a function of the kernel anyway, but Ubuntu has been able to write to NTFS drives for years.

    "FAT32 and NTFS are the two most common file systems".. It's the ONLY 2 Windows Supports!

    "since Mac and Linux can only read NTFS drives — not write to " NTFS. - Partially True Some Linux distro's can only read but write support is available now. For Mac you need to install a driver to support NTFS but may not be free.

    "FAT32's .. only downside is that you can’t store files bigger than 4GB on it."
    - True but if you want to avoid Formatting each time you want to transfer Files Larger then 4GB, create Spanned Zip Archives with/out compression.

    "save you from reformatting your drive about half the time." - upgrade to all the time by advice above OR BUY another External Hard drive and label it NTFS and the Other FAT32.

    FYI: There is a new version of FAT Microsoft created called ExFAT which is almost like calling it FAT64. The point is that the file limitations don't exist but the downside is that only Microsoft support it right now and not very well. Not that it crashes your computer but you can not defragment it with the built in defragmenter.

      Wikipedia says:
      "Windows XP and Windows Server 2003 (both x86 and x64) users can add support for exFAT by installing an update from Microsoft.[1] An experimental, open source Linux kernel module that supports the reading of exFAT files is currently under development.[5] A FUSE-based full-featured implementation is currently in beta status.[6] A proprietary, read/write solution, licensed and derived from the Microsoft exFAT implementation, is available for Android, Linux and other operating systems from Tuxera.[7] A proprietary, full-featured implementation—XCFiles—is available from Datalight.[8] A full-featured implementation for embedded devices —Rtfs—is available from EBS Embedded software.[9] A third party open source driver is available for DOS.[10]

      Mac OS X Snow Leopard added exFAT support in version 10.6.5 on November 10, 2010.[11] OS X 10.6.5 and later can read, write, and create exFAT partitions."

      ... so support isn't that terrible for ExFAT actually.

    I did this conversion using that command from a FAT32 to NTFS, and now the hard drive won't show up in My Computer. I also cannot assign a driver letter to it using the disk management tool. Any thoughts?

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