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How To Convert To The New Technology File System [NTFS]

In this guide you will learn...

• How to Convert a FAT, FAT16, FAT32 (File Allocation Table) Partition to the New Technology File System (NTFS).

Real world application...

• Modern day users of the personal computer usually require large hard disk drives and file sizes that can be several gigabytes in size. Working with these large data sizes requires a file system that can natively support large hard disks and large file sizes.

• By default NTFS supports encryption and can help you protect your files from other users.

For more detailed information regarding NTFS please take a look at ntfs.com.


IMPORTANT: Before we attempt to convert your file system, it is very important to make the appropriate backups of your favourites, music and any other files you consider important to be kept safe. When the conversion is taking place your current favourites, music and other files will remain intact meaning once the conversion has taken place you should be able to access and use these files. But if something were to go wrong and you find that you cannot gain access to favourites, music and any other files, you can rely upon your backups. So this conversion should be taken with a warning and please ensure you fully understand what it is you are doing before proceeding.

Caution: Converting your file system to NTFS is a one way process. Once conversion has completed you cannot then convert back to the FAT file system without a reinstallation of Windows.

This is how you convert a FAT, FAT16, FAT32 (File Allocation Table) Partition to the New Technology File System (NTFS).

File system properties A look at the properties of the C: drive before the conversion shows the File system as FAT32.

Type: CMD We first need to open a Command Prompt Window and to do this click on Start and choose Run.

Now type: cmd

Finally click OK or press Enter.

convert C: /fs:ntfs

The Command Prompt Window should now be open displaying:

C:\Documents and Settings\[user name]>

The command to convert the file system is appropriately named Convert.

So please type the following command to start the conversion: convert C: /fs:ntfs

Now Press Enter.

If you want to convert another partition then simply change the drive letter of the partition that you want to convert.

For example: convert D: /fs:ntfs

If you take the above example and we convert drive D: [or any other drive apart from C:] you may find you can convert this partition from within the Command Prompt window. The reason for this is because usually a drive other than C: is not a boot drive and is not in use. However if you are wanting to convert the boot drive C: then please read on.

Own volume label Your own Volume Label?

If you have given your drive its own volume label then you will have to type the volume label.

So when you are asked:
Enter current volume label for drive C:

Type your drive volume label and as an example, drives C: volume label is
My Drive.

Now press
Enter to continue.

Force a dismount Whilst Convert can function to an extent within Windows it needs to have access to the disk and no other process can be running when the conversion is taking place.

You will be asked the following question: Would you like to force a dismount on this volume? (Y/N)

The answer will be Yes so please type: Y

Now press Enter to force a dismount.

However the dismount will fail and this is normal so do not worry.

Exclusive access Convert will now require exclusive access to the C: Drive and as we are within Windows it cannot have this exclusivity.

You will be asked the following question: Would you like to schedule it to be converted the next time the system restarts (Y/N)?

The answer will be Yes so please type: Y

Now press Enter to schedule a conversion when the system restarts.

Restart your computer You will now need to restart your computer for the conversion to begin.

Boot Logo If you see the Windows XP Boot Screen then do not worry, as you scheduled the conversion; it will start within a few seconds.

 Scheduled The current file system should be recognised as FAT32 and you will have a choice as to whether you want to perform a disk check. By default a disk check will be performed and I strongly recommend you leave this check to be performed.
Skip If you want to skip this check you can do by pressing any key within 10 seconds.

Checking The disk check will now take place and the time this will take will depend upon how many files and folders are present.

Results Once the disk check has completed you will be shown some information about what it has found.

Converting Now the conversion of drive C: to NTFS will take place, information regarding what the conversion process will need and what it has found will be displayed. The time it takes to convert to NTFS will vary on the size of your hard drive and the number of files and folders present.

Complete Once the conversion has completed you will have to wait a few seconds for the system to be restarted.

File system properties Taking at a look at the properties of the C: drive after the conversion reveals that the File system is now and will always be NTFS. You may also notice that you have gained a few extra Megabytes of storage and there are the added options that can be seen at the bottom of the properties windows. This indicates that the conversion has been successful.


Making a backup before you attempt to convert your file system is a must. You can then rely upon this backup in case the conversion does go wrong. However as you can see converting the file system is simple enough and you are not required to do much. You'll have your own reasons for wanting to convert your file system but if you are happy with your current FAT file system then keep it as it is. If you need the support for larger hard drives, files sizes and extra security then NTFS is for you. Also remember that converting the file system is a one way process meaning that you cannot revert. To go back to the FAT file system would require you to reinstall Windows.

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