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Convert FAT32 to NTFS Without Losing Data on Windows

The FAT32 file system has several drawbacks compared to the NTFS file system. For example, you cannot store files larger than 4 GB. If you want to take advantage of NTFS features like support for large files, file compression, permissions, etc., you must convert your FAT32 drive to NTFS.

The good thing is Windows makes it really easy to convert FAT32 to NTFS without data loss. So, even if your FAT32 drive has data or files, you can convert it to NTFS without worrying about data loss.

In this guide, let me show you how to do it step-by-step in simple language and screenshots.

Table of contents:

  1. How to convert FAT32 to NTFS without losing data
  2. Why use the NTFS file system?
  3. Drawbacks of the FAT32 file system
  4. Frequently asked questions (FAQs)
  5. Conclusion

Important note: Even though the process doesn’t cause data loss, it is always a good practice to back up any crucial data before proceeding. Also, you have to make sure that there is no power loss while the conversion is happening. Sudden power loss while converting might cause irrecoverable data loss.

How to convert FAT32 to NTFS without losing data

To convert FAT32 to NTFS, we can use the file system command in the Terminal or Command Prompt. Let me show you how.

Here’s how to convert FAT32 to NTFS without losing data:

  1. Right-click on the Start icon on the taskbar.
  2. Select the “Terminal (Admin)” option.
  3. Select “Command Prompt” from the dropdown on the title bar.
  4. Type “convert DriveLetter: /fs:ntfs” in the command window. Replace DriveLetter with the actual drive letter of the drive you want to convert.
  5. Press “Enter” to execute the command.
  6. Executing the command starts the conversion process.
  7. Once completed, you will see the “Conversion complete” message.
  8. You can close the Terminal window.
  9. With that, you have converted FAT32 to NTFS.

Steps with more details:

First, if it is a USB or external drive you want to convert, plug it in. After that, press the Windows key on your keyboard, search for “Command Prompt,” and select the Run as Administrator option. This will open the Command Prompt with admin rights.

Note: You can also open Terminal as admin by right-clicking the start icon and selecting “Terminal (Admin).”

open cmd as admin

Once the command window opens, run the following command while replacing DriveLetter with the actual drive letter of the drive. For example, the drive I want to convert has the drive letter “G.” So, I replaced the text DriveLetter in the command with G.

 convert DriveLetter: /fs:ntfs
command to convert fat32 to ntfs

As soon as you execute the command, the conversion process will start. The entire conversion process will take some time, depending on the drive size and the amount of data it has. Do not close the Command Prompt window or turn off the computer during that time.

Once the conversion is complete, you will see the “Conversion Complete” message. At this point, the job is done, and you can safely close the Command Prompt window.

With that, you’ve safely converted FAT32 to NTFS without data loss.

Why Use NTFS File System?

NTFS is the default file format for Windows, meaning that when you format a drive in Windows 10 or 11, or install the operating system on a new hard drive, it will be in NTFS format. Compared to older file formats like FAT32, NTFS offers more features and benefits. It supports larger hard drives and files, allows you to set file permissions, and provides better data security. These advantages make NTFS the recommended and default file format for formatting drives in Windows.

Despite its many advantages, most external hard drives and thumb drives come pre-formatted in FAT32 format. This is mainly due to compatibility reasons. For instance, if you want to use your thumb drive on an Android device, the NTFS format may not be supported. When needed, you can also format a drive in FAT32 format for compatibility’s sake.

Drawbacks of FAT32 File System

Being an old file system, FAT32 has some severe drawbacks compared to NTFS. Here are a few of them in detail.

  1. Limited File Size Support: FAT32 has a file size limit of 4 GB. This means you cannot store any files larger than 4 GB on a FAT32 file system. This limitation can be problematic if you work with large files, such as videos or high-resolution images.
  2. Poor Security Features: FAT32 has poor security features, making it vulnerable to unauthorized access, viruses, and malware. There is no built-in file encryption, and permissions and access control are limited, making it easier for hackers to gain access to your data.
  3. Fragmentation Issues: FAT32 is prone to fragmentation, leading to reduced performance and overall efficiency. When files are fragmented, the system has to spend more time searching for data, which can lead to slower read and write times.
  4. Disk Space Wastage: FAT32 uses a relatively large cluster size, which can result in significant disk space wastage. This is because even small files can take up an entire cluster, leading to unused space on the disk.
  5. Limited Disk Capacity: FAT32 has a maximum disk capacity limit of 2 TB. This can be a limitation if you have a large hard drive or storage device.
  6. Poor Reliability: FAT32 has a higher risk of file corruption and data loss than NTFS. This is because FAT32 does not have built-in data redundancy or error-checking features, making it more prone to data loss in the event of a system crash or power failure.

Overall, though FAT32 is quite popular due to its compatibility with older systems, the above-listed drawbacks make it really hard to use it.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Here are a few frequently asked questions about converting FAT32 drives to NTFS.

Will I lose any data during the FAT32 to NTFS conversion process?

No, the conversion process does not result in any data loss. However, it is always a good practice to back up your data before making any changes to your system, in case of unexpected errors or issues.

How long does the conversion process take?

The conversion process usually takes only a few minutes, depending on the size of your hard drive and the number of files on it.

Can I convert back to FAT32 after converting to NTFS?

Yes, you can convert back to FAT32 if you need to. However, this will result in data loss due to compatibility issues between NTFS and FAT32, so be sure to back up your data before making any changes.

Will converting to NTFS affect my installed programs and applications?

No, converting to NTFS should not affect your installed programs and applications as long as you follow the instructions carefully and do not delete any files or folders during the conversion process.

FAT32 to NTFS — Conclusion

As you can see, it is rather easy to convert FAT32 to NTFS without losing data. Though the entire process is quite easy, it is always important to take necessary precautions when making changes to your system, such as backing up any crucial data and ensuring that there is no power loss during the conversion process.

By converting to NTFS, you can enjoy a modern file system with better security and usability.

I hope this simple and easy Windows how-to guide helped you.

If you are stuck or need help, email me, and I will try to help as much as possible.

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