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How to convert FAT32 to NTFS without losing data Windows 10

Microsoft Windows Operating system uses the two most common and popular file systems called FAT32 and NTFS.

Microsoft designed and introduced the first file system, FAT, in 1977. Later, FAT16 and FAT32 were developed and introduced to the world. The FAT32 file system was first introduced in 1996 by Microsoft and used in MS-DOS 7.1 and Windows 95.

FAT32 is a popular File system that grew its presence and usage in many devices, different operating systems, removable storage devices, and flash drives. However, due to the limitation of file size and partition size in FAT32, Microsoft strongly recommends converting the file system to NTFS.

In this guide, we will see how to convert FAT32 to NTFS without losing data using the command prompt.

Convert FAT32 to NTFS windows 10

What is FAT32 Limitation?

If you have a hard drive formatted with FAT32 File System, you might have noticed that you can’t copy large files to it. FAT32 supports a maximum file size of 4GB.

That means if you try to copy any file greater than 4GB, you will get the below error that “The file is too large for the destination file system” due to the FAT32 file size limit.

FAT32 File too Large Windows 10

Also, the maximum partition size that you can create with the FAT32 file system is 32GB in Windows. Therefore, if you have a 3TB Hard Drive, it is not possible to format with the FAT32 file system in Windows.

What is File System?

The file system is a method for storing and organizing computer files and their data to make it easy to find and access them. File systems use a data storage device such as a hard disk or CD-ROM and involve maintaining the physical location of the files.

In order words, the file system is nothing but how it manages to store and retrieve the data from the storage device.

All in all, there are three major file systems that are currently used and supported by Windows. The files systems are FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT.

Now, what is exFAT, don’t get surprised if you are hearing this file system for the first time. Before we jump to convert FAT32 to NTFS, let us quickly understand what these file systems are.

What is the NTFS File System?

NTFS (New Technology File System) is a file system that was first introduced in Windows NT by Microsoft in 1993. Later, it started using Windows XP and followed to use it on all subsequent versions of Windows as the default file system.

The NTFS file system has several improvements over FAT32. NTFS has advanced data structures to improve performance, reliability, disk space utilization, and security access control lists. Moreover, this file system does not have partition size and file size limitations. 

What is the FAT32 File System?

FAT(File Allocation Table) is a file system that was first introduced in Windows 95 by Microsoft in 1996. FAT32 is widely used on computer systems, memory cards, and Flash/Pen Drives.

FAT32 is a file system architecture that’s not as efficient as NTFS but offers greater compatibility with other operating systems. NTFS is a preferred File System used by Microsoft Windows Operating Systems.

What is the exFAT File System?

exFAT is a file system that was first introduced with Windows XP and Windows Vista by Microsoft in 2006. exFAT is the abbreviation of the “Extended File Allocation Table .”

The exFAT file system is a relatively new format that was developed and designed to be a lightweight file system like FAT32. It was designed to create a file system optimized for flash storage media devices like USB sticks and SD cards.

The exFAT file system is simply a modern version of the FAT32 file system, which is optimized for flash drives overcoming the limitation of FAT32.

What is the Difference Between FAT32 vs exFAT and NTFS File System?

Below is the significant difference between these file systems.

FAT32 is a file system that was first introduced in 1996 by Microsoft with Windows 95 Operating system.ex-FAT was introduced in 2006 with Windows XP and Vista operating systems.NTFS was first introduced with Windows NT but started using widely after Windows XP. NTFS was the default file system in Windows 7 and Windows 10
The maximum partition size for FAT32 is 32GBIt does not have partition size limits.It does not have partition size limits.
The maximum File size supported by FAT32 is 4GBIt does not have file size limits.It does not have file size limits.
The FAT32 file system is used on a wide range of devices and is easy to use and quick accessexFAT is ideal for removable devicesNTFS is more efficient and faster. Support disk quotas to track and control disk space usage on NTFS
FAT32 uses space more efficiently and uses smaller clusters however it is an old file system with its limitationexFAT is a modern replacement for FAT32 and is also used in many devices and OS but not very popular.NTFS is faster than the FAT32 File system. NTFS is more robust and used by default in Windows 10 and other devices
Works on Windows. MAC, Linux, etcWorks on all Windows version and modern version on MAC OS but require additional software to support on LinuxWorks on all versions of Windows. In Mac OS, it supports only read-only access. For Linux, additional software is required to support read and write for the NTFS file system

How To Check File System?

To check the File System of any particular drive. Open My Computer –> Select the Drive and Press Alt + Enter or Select the drive, right-click on the mouse, and choose Properties.

Navigate to General Tab and check File System.

convert exfat to ntfs

We will see two methods below by which we can convert FAT32 to NTFS. In the first method, we will use a command prompt to convert the file system without losing the data.

In the second method, we will format the drive to change to the NTFS file system.

How to convert FAT32 to NTFS without losing data using Command Prompt in Windows 10?

Microsoft Windows has a built-in converter tool to convert FAT32 to an NTFS file system without losing the internal data. The below step remains the same to convert exFAT to NTFS file system.

If your drive is a FAT32 file system and wants to convert the drive to NTFS, but the drive has many files and cannot be moved to other drives. Then the best option is to convert the drive using this method.

1. Press Windows Keys, type Command Prompt, and right-click on Command Prompt, and select “Run as Administrator”

2. In the Command prompt, type the below command.

CONVERT [driveletter]: /FS:NTFS


Here, Convert is a command, M is the drive letter to convert, and /FS: NTFS specifies the drive to be converted to NTFS.

how to convert fat32 to ntfs without data loss

The conversion process might take a while or more, depending on the drive size. Once the conversion is complete, you should see the file system for that drive as NTFS.

How to convert FAT32 to NTFS by formatting the drive in Windows 10?

If your drive is FAT32 and you want to convert the drive to NTFS, you can reformat the drive using the NTFS file system.

While formatting the drive, make sure you don’t have any important data on your drive or copied your data to other drive locations. Since this method will reformat the drive deleting all the data on the drive partition.

You can follow the same below steps to convert exFAT to NTFS file system by formatting the drive.

Note: Below step will delete all data from the drive that you will format.

1. Open My computer –> Select the drive and right-click and choose the “Format” option.

2. Now, Choose File System as NTFS and Click Start.

format usb to ntfs

(Optional: Put a checkmark on Quick Format, else it may take a long time to format)

Once Drive Format is Complete, you should have a clean drive with NTFS File System.

About Roshan Karkera

Roshan Karkera a.k.a. k.roshan. Blogger by passion and software engineer by profession. He believes in sharing knowledge, which made him to start his own blog. He is very much keen & passionate about new technology & Science. If you'd like to connect with him, follow at Google plus or Twitter.


  1. i have drive with Fat 32 and wanted to convert to NTFS.i used first method bcoz all data inside my drive was useless.Thanks, now i have a fresh and clean drive.

  2. I was wondering why i can't assign access protection Now i understood.I had Fat 32 and Converted to NTFS now using method 1.
    thanks DJ

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