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How To Convert a Windows Drive From FAT32 To NTFS

Older Windows operating systems relied heavily on the FAT32 file system for storage. This file system was designed with 32-bit operating systems in mind, limiting the maximum storage capacity of a FAT32 drive to 2 TB and file sizes from 2 GB to 4 GB (depending on your operating system). However, FAT32 is an old file system.

NTFS has been the default file system for Windows users since the days of Windows XP, so if you are still holding onto drives that use FAT32, you are missing out on the speed and technical advancements that currently supported NTFS offers. If you want to convert Windows drive from FAT32 to NTFS, you need to do the following.

Use Windows PowerShell to convert FAT32 to NTFS

There is no graphical option to convert FAT32 drives to NTFS on Windows. However, you can convert a Windows drive from FAT32 to NTFS using Windows PowerShell, although this will not work for the drive where your Windows installation is installed.

The process will take a little time. Once the process is complete and if there are no errors, the file system on your disk should be converted to NTFS without any additional steps.

If the error still occurs, it could indicate a problem with your drive, so be sure to check your hard drive for errors before trying the process again.

Convert FAT32 drives to NTFS using Windows File Explorer

While converting the drive from FAT32 to NTFS without formatting is the preferred option, you may not be able to do this. If your filesystem has errors or you just want to clean up the disk and change its destination, you might find formatting is the best option.

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This means that your current FAT32 file system will be deleted along with all existing files and replaced with an empty NTFS drive. You can do this in several ways, but the fastest way is to use Windows Explorer.

Formatting speed will vary depending on the size of the disc and whether you have selected the quick format option. Once the NTFS formatting process is complete, you can immediately use the drive.

Convert FAT32 drives to NTFS using Disk Management

You can also use Windows Disk Management tool to format your FAT32 drive by converting it to NTFS. Like the above method, this will also erase your data, so be sure to back up your files.

At this point, the drive will be formatted. Once the process completes, your newly formatted drive will appear in Windows Explorer for you to use.

Using third-party software to convert FAT32 drives

Windows includes various built-in methods to format or convert drives from FAT32 to NTFS, but there are third-party options as well.

One example of free software that can accomplish this task is AOMEI Partition Assistant. Although there is a paid version of this software, the free version can convert FAT32 drives to NTFS without formatting drives or losing data.

Your newly converted NTFS drive will be ready to use as soon as this process is complete.

Alternative File Systems for Windows Drives

FAT32 may be an old file system, but that doesn’t mean it should be abandoned entirely. You can use an older FAT32 drive as shared storage for dual boot systems, but you will probably find it easier to switch to NTFS or another type of filesystem like EXT4, the filesystem used by many Linux distributions.

You may prefer to use FAT32 for your USB drive if you’re on older computers, but for the most part NTFS is the best file system for USB and external drives, even though FAT32 is considered the most compatible option However, if you have a Mac, you can try exFAT as both Windows and macOS support it.

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