Windows: Convert FAT/FAT32 to NTFS without loosing data

What is NTFS and FAT32?

They are formats (file systems) for your harddrive. For Windows 98SE and before, FAT32 or FAT16 is the filetype for your harddisk. NTFS is the standard for Windows XP. People say that NTFS is faster than FAT32, as it is far superior. Especially when defragmenting, FAT32 is way slower.

When Can You Use This?

When you buy a external harddrive, the standard is FAT32. Annoying. Moreover, some WinXP installations (in particular, XP upgrades) are done on FAT32 drives.

So, Why Use NTFS over FAT32?

Let’s say you have FAT32. You want to unrar a large file (> 4 GB) and Windows tells you that you cannot unpack it because you don’t have enough hard drive space. Even if you do, you’ll still generate this error. This is because FAT32 drives do not support large files on it (anything over 4 GB).


I’m not responsible for your actions! When converting FAT32 to NTFS, you WILL NOT LOSE any files or data; however, there’s always the chance that something can go wrong (remember, it IS Microsoft, by the way).

Solution / How to Do It:

You don’t need to install a program to change the filetype from FAT32 to NTFS.

1. Press the Start button.

2. Go to Run…

3. Type in “cmd” without the quotes, press OK.

4. Go to your C:/ folder, by typing in cd, (or “cd..”just as long till you have reached C:/ ). See above image. Likewise, type in “cd c:” works, as well.

5. Go to your “My Computer” icon, and see the name of the letter that stands in from of the drive you want to convert!

6. Back in cmd, Press in “CONVERT X: /FS:NTFS” (without the quotes). The X is for the letter your system drive, or external drive name. (see Step 5)

7. On the question ‘convert lost chains top files Y/N?‘ press ‘y‘ and continue.

8. cmd will now check the file system and the rest. If your cmd finishes, your file system is converted to NTFS. You can close down cmd. (If you want to check if it really did finished, go to ‘My Computer’ and right click on the drive, select ‘Properties’ to see what kind of file system it has).

9. If cmd says: ‘X: was not converted to NFTS, the conversion failed etc, you must follow the next steps!


10. As you can see above, my cmd failed the first time. Next solution.

11. Type in “chkdsk X: /f“, where X is the letter of your drive. Wait a while to finish.

12. You’ll be asked to ‘convert lost chains top files Y/N?‘ press ‘y‘ and continue. Wait for it to finish.

13. After this, cmd will say that converting was successful. Check it by going to your computer, and single click on the drive to see what kind of file system your drive has. You may need to repeat step 6.


Since 30 years I work on Database Architecture and data migration protocols. I am also a consultant in Web content management solutions and medias protecting solutions. I am experienced web-developer with over 10 years developing PHP/MySQL, C#, VB.Net applications ranging from simple web sites to extensive web-based business applications. Besides my work, I like to work freelance only on some wordpress projects because it is relaxing and delightful CMS for me. When not working, I like to dance salsa and swing and to have fun with my little family.

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