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How to convert NTFS to FAT32?

Jan 02, 2018 / Posted by Brithny to Partition Master

This page introduces you how to convert NTFS to FAT32 without data loss. You can try it to easily change NTFS to FAT32 without formatting.

When we install a new operating system on a computer, the installation program would ask you to choose FAT file system or NTFS file system for your system partition. It would also happen when formatting a partition under the Windows. What's the difference between these two file systems?

The FAT32 file system

  • Supports Win95, Win98, Win2000, Win2003 and Win7
  • Default cluster size as small as 4 KB, higher utilization of disk space.
  • Supports drives up to 2 terabytes in size (NOTE: Windows 2000 only supports FAT32 partitions up to a size of 32 GB.)
  • Great stability and reliability. FAT32 relocates the root folder, uses the backup copy of the file allocation table instead of the default copy. Moreover, the boot record on FAT32 drives is expanded to include a backup copy of critical data structures. Therefore, FAT32 drives are less susceptible to a single point of failure.
  • Allows for dynamic resizing of FAT32 partitions, being more flexible. The root folder can be located anywhere on the drive, no limitations on the number of root folder entries. Disable file allocation table mirroring, allows a copy of the file allocation table to be active. (Note: it will not be implemented by Microsoft in the initial release.)

The NTFS file system

Better compatibility. Supported Windows NT family (Windows NT 3.1 to Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003, Windows Vista, Windows Server 2008, Windows 7/8, Windows Server 2008 R2), Mac OS X, GNU/Linux

NTFS is a newer file system that came after FAT. It has quickly gained the popularity over FAT for being feature-rich, proprietary, undocumented at the raw bytes level, and subject to change - even within Service Packs of the same OS version. Under most circumstances, the NTFS file system performs very well and also it provides advanced security and compression features that are not available in the FAT file system.

Why convert NTFS to FAT32?

In most occasions, NTFS file system is recommended for above-mentioned advantages, especially when you have a single file over 4G in size or a hard driver over 137G in size. However, the structure of the NTFS file system is not that easy and clear as FAT file system and many programs still can't be compatible with this newer file system.

The following are some cases I collected from the Microsoft support forum that people may wish to convert NTFS to FAT32.

  • "I wanna backup my system partition and it is an NTFS partition. However, the backup application I use doesn't support NFTS and only FAT is supported. So I need to convert NTFS to FAT32. "
  • "I have Sony PS3. When I try to play a game with it, I found NTFS partition is not supported. Are there any ways to change NTFS to FAT32 without purchasing 3rd-party programs or re-formatting the partition?"

How to convert NTFS to FAT32?

It's easy to convert FAT32 to NTFS for Windows provides this function. Click Start, type "cmd" in the search box, press Enter, type "convert F: /FS: NTFS" in the command prompt, press Enter. (NOTE: this method is irreversible unless you format your partition.)

When converting NTFS to FAT32, you have only two methods. One is to format your NTFS partition. If there is enough free disk space in other partitions, you can copy data to free space and then format the NTFS partition to FAT32. After you reformat your previous NTFS partition to FAT32 partition, you can copy the data back. In addition, you can back up the blank FAT partition to an image file, then it's convenient for you to convert partition format next time. And the other way is to use a third party NTFS to the FAT32 converter.