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How to convert NTFS to FAT32 or convert FAT32 to NTFS?


What is FAT32 or NTFS? It's often asked. NTFS is a newer file system that is feature-rich, proprietary, undocumented at the raw bytes level, and subject to change - even within Service Packs of the same OS version. The NTFS file system, introduced with first version of Windows NT, is a completely different file system from FAT. It provides for greatly increased security, file–by–file compression, quotas, and even encryption. It is the default file system for new installations of Windows XP, and if you're doing an upgrade from a previous version of Windows, you'll be asked if you want to convert your existing file systems to NTFS. Don't worry. You can convert FAT16 or FAT32 volumes to NTFS at any point. Just remember that you can't easily go back to FAT or FAT32 (without reformatting the drive or partition), not that I think you'll want to.

FATxx is an old file system that is simple, well-documented, readable from a large number of OSs, and supported by a wide range of tools. The FAT32 file system, originally introduced in Windows 95 Service Pack 2, is really just an extension of the original FAT16 file system that provides for a much larger number of clusters per partition. As such, it greatly improves the overall disk utilization when compared to a FAT16 file system. However, FAT32 shares all of the other limitations of FAT16, and adds an important additional limitation—many operating systems that can recognize FAT16 will not work with FAT32—most notably Windows NT, but also Linux and UNIX as well. Now this isn't a problem if you're running FAT32 on a Windows XP computer and sharing your drive out to other computers on your network—they don't need to know (and generally don't really care) what your underlying file system is.

Comparing FAT32 and NTFS - often becomes quite challenging as both have their own advantages and disadvantages. he table given below shows the pluses and minuses of the widespread file system used (e.g. FAT32 and NTFS) used today.

Windows98, NT5
NT4, NT5
Maximal volume size
Near by unlimited
Near by unlimited
Maximal files count
Near by unlimited
Near by unlimited
File name
Long names (up to 255 chars), system character set.
Long names (up to 255 chars), unicode character set.
File attributes
Basic set
All that programmers want
Yes (capability of physical encryption, starting from NT5.0)
Fault tolerance
Fully (automatic)
Improved (small clusters)
as for FAT, but also additional enalty for big volumes
very effective for all volumes

How to convert FAT32 to NTFS?

This article describes how to convert FAT disks to NTFS. You can convert FAT32 to NTFS using the setup program. The Setup program makes it easy to convert your partition to the new version of NTFS, even if it used FAT or FAT32 before. This kind of conversion keeps your files intact (unlike formatting a partition).

Setup begins by checking the existing file system. If it is NTFS, conversion is not necessary. If it is FAT or FAT32, Setup gives you the choice of converting to NTFS. If you don't need to keep your files intact and you have a FAT or FAT32 partition, it is recommended that you format the partition with NTFS rather than converting from FAT or FAT32. (Formatting a partition erases all data on the partition and allows you to start fresh with a clean drive.) However, it is still advantageous to use NTFS, regardless of whether the partition was formatted with NTFS or converted.

Note: Although the chance of corruption or data loss during the conversion is minimal, we recommend that you perform a backup of the data on the volume that you want to convert before you start the conversion.

To convert an existing FAT or FAT32 volume to NTFS, follow these steps:

  1. Click Start, point to All Programs, point to Accessories, and then click Command Prompt.
  2. At the command prompt, type the following, where drive letter is the drive that you want to convert: convert drive letter: /fs:ntfs For example, type the following command to convert drive E to NTFS: convert e: /fs:ntfs Note If the operating system is on the drive that you are converting, you will be prompted to schedule the task when you restart the computer because the conversion cannot be completed while the operating system is running. When you are prompted, click YES.
  3. When you receive the following message at the command prompt, type the volume label of the drive that you are converting, and then press ENTER:
    The type of the file system is FAT.
    Enter the current volume label for drive drive letter
  4. When the conversion to NTFS is complete, you receive the following message at the command prompt: Conversion complete
  5. Quit the command prompt.

How to convert FAT32 to NTFS with Partition Magic?

To convert an existing NTFS to FAT32, follow these steps:

Step1. First download the Partition Magic here. Install it!

Step2. After installion the program, double click the Partition Magic icon on your desktop, then you will open Partition Magic. The main window is as follows.

partition magic main window

Step3. Click the disk you want to format. In my example, you can only choose disk C or D. make sure the disk you choose is NTFS format.

Step4. Move you mouse to menu Partition then select convert, choose FAT32 in the Convert Partition dialogue and click OK Button. You can convert your disk to FAT32 format without data missing.

convert ntfs to fat32

Note: Although the chance of corruption or data loss during the conversion is minimal, we recommend that you perform a backup of the data on the volume that you want to convert before you start the conversion to insure your data securty.

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