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Can I reformat a drive from FAT32 to NTFS?

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February 23, 2011 4:55:29 AM

Hey guys, so I have a WD Passport 250GB external hard drive. I found out it was FAT32 when TeraCopy warned me that FAT32 has a 4GB file transfer limit.

I don't know why it's FAT32, isn't this a really old file system? We got the XHD just a few yrs ago

Is there any reason I should keep it as a FAT32? I believe NTFS has the benefit of the bigger file size limit and other things?

How would I go about reformatting if I could? Backup all my files first of course.

Please educate me on this matter, thank you for your time
a c 385 G Storage
February 23, 2011 11:05:10 AM

They use FAT32 on externals because most modern operating systems can read/write to FAT32 voulumes.

I don't know if the passport will allow converson, but if you open a command prompt you can try converting to NTFS by typing in:

convert <drive letter>: /FS:NTFS /X /V

You can omit the /V if you don't want verbose mode. Convert can be found in c:\windows\system32.
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February 23, 2011 3:30:27 PM

There must be some easier way..? and is it recommended to format it to NTFS?
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a c 385 G Storage
February 23, 2011 3:59:32 PM

The other way is to go to "my computer", right-click the drive and select format. This will destroy all the data on it.

Another ways is to find the drive in "disk management", right-click it and select format. This will also destroy all the data so be sure to have backups first.

The convert command I listed in my other post is not supposed to destroy data, but it's always good to have a backup first anyhow.

edit:
You have the option to choose NTFS during the format command. If you use the convert command, the /FS:NTFS specifies the convert to NTFS.
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February 23, 2011 4:09:45 PM

Yeah I'm gonna backup the data regardless. I'm using Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

So I right click and Format I've done that with other drives before, and then it'll let me choose NTFS from there..?
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a c 385 G Storage
February 23, 2011 4:16:44 PM

reaper2794 said:
Yeah I'm gonna backup the data regardless. I'm using Windows 7 Ultimate 64-bit

So I right click and Format I've done that with other drives before, and then it'll let me choose NTFS from there..?


Yes, you will have the option to choose the file system. NTFS should be the default. If not, select it. If you have any file in use at the time, it may ask you to dismount the drive first. Just tell it to allow it to do so.
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February 23, 2011 4:19:34 PM

Ok Hawk thank you I will try this when I can, thank you very much for your help

But just to make sure, what am I "losing" by ditching FAT32 on my XHD?
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a c 385 G Storage
February 23, 2011 6:47:54 PM

You will gain more than you lose. The only real important thing you will lose (perhaps) is if you move this drive around on different systems. Like I said, lot's of OS's can read.write fat32. You could install linux on your computer and it will still be able to read your current files. You can disconnect your drive from your PC and hook it to a Mac and it will be able to read your files. This is why most flash drives come formatted fat32.

If this drive will never leave your system or you will always use Winows as your OS, then you will lose nothing by going to NTFS.

You will gain the ability to set permissions on files when using NTFS. NTFS allows for secondary file streams (meta data). NTFS is a journaling file system so it's harder to corrupt the data than fat32.
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February 23, 2011 10:46:08 PM

Ok that's great thank you!
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