FAT32 is a legacy file system which was created in 1980s and was used by default with a number of Windows versions. Windows 9x/Me required a FAT32 partition on the hard drive. Many multimedia players with USB support also supported only FAT32 for flash drives and not NTFS. If you have a drive formatted with FAT32, you might want to convert it to the modern NTFS file system. Here is how it can be done.
These days, FAT32 is considered too old for data storage. It does not support permissions, encryption and cannot support very large files. It lacks many features that exist in NTFS. exFAT is a more modern alternative but is still not as advanced as NTFS.
Windows comes with a special console tool, convert.exe to converts FAT and FAT32 volumes to NTFS without data loss. The app should be started from an elevated command prompt. Its general syntax is as follows:
convert [volume] /fs:ntfs [/v] [/cvtarea:FileName] [/nosecurity] [/x]
Switches are as follows.
volume - the drive letter to convert to NTFS. For example, D:
/fs:ntfs - while NTFS is the only file system supported by convert, this parameter is mandatory.
/cvtarea - specifies that the Master File Table (MFT) and other NTFS metadata files are written to an existing, contiguous placeholder file. This parameter is for advanced users only.
/nosecurity - specifies that the converted files and folders should be accessible by everyone.
/x - dismounts the volume which is in use before it is converted. Any open handles to the volume will no longer be valid.
To convert FAT32 to NTFS in Windows 10, do the following.
- Open an elevated command prompt.
- Type or copy-paste the following command:
convert drive_letter: /fs:ntfs
Substitute the drive_letter portion with the actual drive letter. In my case, the command will look as follows:
convert F: /fs:ntfs
- Press the Enter key to continue. When the file system is converted, you can close the elevated command prompt.