Site Logo
The Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) Program was started in the mid 1990s as a way to recognise those members of the general public who devoted their time and considerable computing skills, on a voluntary basis, to helping users 'in distress' in the various newsgroups hosted by Microsoft. There are now around 1800 MVPs worldwide who actively participate in the Microsoft Technical Newsgroups. Many are IT consultants, some are published authors or technical instructors, and there are those who have no formal training but have an in-depth level of practical experience.
Home > Windows XP Common Issues > Converting your hard disk to NTFS
August 28, 2015

  curve   curve  

Converting Hard disks formatted to the FAT file system to NTFS

NOTE: This command is one way only, by doing this you will not be able to convert your drive back to FAT32 without 3rd Party utility or reformatting the drive.

The advantages to using the NTFS file system:

  • Ability encrypt files on the hard disk (Windows XP Pro only)

  • Set security permissions on folders and files allowing only certain users to access, write or delete.

  • The ability to set quotas

  • File compression

  • Supports larger partitions (32Gb limit for FAT32 when installing Windows XP, with NTFS volumes of 2 TB and greater are possible) and file sizes than Fat/32 (On an NTFS drive the maximum file size is equal to that of the drive volume, on Fat16 there is a 2Gb size limit on each file, with Fat32 this is 4Gb).

  • Improved resilience to data loss and efficiency vs. FAT

NTFS conversion should not be done in the following instances:

  • In a dual boot scenario with another operating system that cannot read NTFS (Such as Windows 95, 98 or ME) when converted is the boot drive. (converting the boot drive will prohibit access to operating systems that cannot read NTFS).

  • If you wish to access the converted drive using a dos boot disk (A 3rd party utility must be used to access an NTFS drive via Dos, encrypted files will remain inaccessible to dos).

  • If you have upgraded from Windows 98 or ME and wish to uninstall Windows XP without having to reformat your hard disk.

With FAT formatted drives created with earlier versions of Windows there may be 2KB system sectors before the data starts and as the cluster size is often larger than 4Kb, you may end up with 512byte clusters which isn't an incredibly efficient conversion. You can align the data into a 4Kb area before you convert with a tool such as BootitNG - Compare Cluster Sizes
FAT32 partitions formatted by Windows XP do not contain 2kb system sectors..

To Convert a drive go to start, select run and enter cmd into the run box. When the cmd windows appears enter the following as shown in the picture below

convert drive_letter: /fs:ntfs

cmd window

Within Windows, covert will not be able to obtain exclusive access to your hard drive if any files are in use, as such the conversion must be done the next time Windows starts to load

cmd requires reset

On the next reboot the process will start by checking the drive for errors, before proceeding to determine the disk space required for the conversion and thereafter the conversion of the file system to NTFS.

VM Ware Screen - Converting

Drive information

Your drive should now be using the NTFS file system.


Copyright © 2002-2003, Mark Salloway, All Rights Reserved. All images and product names used within this site are the property of their respective copyright owners and are used as an example. Reproduction of information on this site, in any form, is prohibited without express written permission.

Microsoft is in no way affiliated with, nor offers endorsement of, this site. Members of the MVP program are not employees of the Microsoft Corporation. This site's owner assumes no liability for use of any information provided. Usage of this site's content, links and any downloadable items provided is at your own risk