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How to change a disk or USB from FAT32 to NTFS or other formats

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Brian Adam
Professional Blogger, V logger, traveler and explorer of new horizons.
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Any hard drive or storage unit in general has to be formatted with some File System so they can be read and edited. That is why it is so important to be clear about what these file systems are and then to know how we can make a disk drive or USB get to have those formats.

The formats with which we can work in Windows 10 they are FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT. The best known and most used is FAT32 and that is why we are going to rely on it to go from one format to another, but first we must be clear about what we are talking about.

File format

The format of a disc is a set of operations, which are independent of each other that allow the hard disk, a USB memory or any storage system to have the optimal state so that it can be used over and over again, preserving the optimal state for it.

The file system that a storage drive carries is the way files are assigned sectors to make them compatible with the systems to be read These devices. If they are going to be used in Windows, we can have a file system FAT32, NTFS and exFAT as the most used today.

FAT32

It is the oldest, being among us since Windows 95, developing to replace FAT16. The fact of taking so long makes it compatible with practically all types of devices, from a computer to a television, through a mobile phone or a console.

But being ancient we can also speak of limitations such as that of unable to store files larger than 4GB or that the partitions cannot be larger than 8 TB, something, the latter, that does not affect too much.

NTFS

Here we find a bit the opposite situation that we saw with FAT32, since it is much more modern, removing the two limitations that we had before, such as 4 GB for a file and 8 TB for partitions. Also includes a series of novelties such as the possibility of configuring permissions, support instant backups or the file encryption.

The problem is that it is currently not as compatible as FAT32, despite being much more modern. We will not have problems with the main operating system for computers, since Windows is fully supported, but with macOS and Linux, we may have more difficulties. Likewise, there will be devices, such as mobiles or televisions, for example, that are not compatible either.

exFAT

We can say that exFAT is the modern FAT32. It arrived in 2006 and it was already incorporated into Windows XP. It is intended for flash drives, being lighter than NTFS and without the limitations that FAT32 has. The good news is that it is compatible with the main operating systems such as Windows, Linux and macOS.

exFAT is recommended whenever we use USB drives, for example, where we need save files larger than 4 GB, that we are going to put on all kinds of devices, since televisions, mobiles or consoles are compatible with this system.

FAT32 to NTFS without formatting

First of all, it is advisable to make a backup copy of everything stored on the drive to which we are going to change the file system, in case we have a problem at any time. In addition, we must be sure which drive we are going to convert to NTFS format.

  • Once this is done, we are going to right-click on the windows symbol that is in the start menu, to choose Windows PowerShell (Administrator).

Windows start menu

  • Now we must write:
    • convert LETRAUNITY / fs: ntfs
  • Emphasizing that where we put LETRAUNITY it must be replaced by the letter that represents the system unit that we want to convert from FAT32 to NTFS.

Windows Powershell drive format

  • Once we click Enter, the command will begin to be executed, we will see how the serial number of the unit will be displayed and the verification of files and folders of the indicated unit will begin.

When the process is finished, the file system is analyzed to check if there are any problems and the disk space required for the conversion will be determined to finally proceed with the conversion of the file system from FAT32 to NTFS.

From FAT32 to NTFS formatting

There is another method to pass FAT32 to NTFS or exFAT, but everything we have stored will be erased. That is why in this case it is even more useful if we first of all make a backup copy of the data we have saved.

  • Now we have to open the Windows File Explorer.
  • We locate the unit in which we want to change the file system and click on it with the right mouse button.
  • At that time we must choose the option in the drop-down menu Format of all those that are presented to us.

contextual menu

  • Now we will see a window where we will have the possibility to choose which is the File System we want for unity. In this case we must choose NTFS.

format drive

  • Once we have chosen it, we will see a button at the bottom where it says Quick format. if it is activated, the system will manage it quickly, but if it is deactivated, the formatting will be more intensive, but also considerably slower. This is left to the choice of each one.
  • Once we are clear about this, all that remains is to click on Start for the process to begin.

Once it is finished we will have the unit in the NTFS system that we have chosen, although from this way of changing the file systems of a device, we can also choose exFAT or even FAT32 if we want to return to have it as it was at the beginning. That is, using this method we can change from one system to another without problems, although without being able to preserve what is stored in the unit.

As you have seen, it is very easy and simple to be able to go from a FAT32 to NTFS or exFAT format, being able to have a couple of methods, different in their way of working and in their result. Now it only remains for you to choose the one that best suits your needs.

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