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Converting external hard drive to NTFS format

If you follow the step below this mehod will NOT delete any of your existing files and depending on the size of your hard drive will only take about 10 - 15 minutes.

Additional Notes:

  • After you convert a partition to NTFS, you cannot convert it back.
  • If you want to use the FAT file system on the partition again, you'll need to reformat the partition, and this will erase all data on it.
  • Some earlier versions of Windows cannot read data on local NTFS partitions. If you need to use an earlier version of Windows to access a partition on the computer, do not convert it.
  • Although the chance of corruption or data loss during a conversion is minimal, you should back up all data on the partition before you begin.

How to convert an external hard drive to NTFS format without losing your existing data or files

The NTFS file system provides better performance and security for data on hard disks and partitions or volumes than the FAT file system used in some earlier version of Windows. If you have a partition that uses the earlier FAT16 or FAT32 file system, you can convert it to NTFS by using the convert command. Converting to NTFS does not affect the data on the partition.


  1. Close any open programs running on the partition or logical drive to be converted.

  2. Click the Start button , click All Programs, click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

  3. In the Command Prompt window, type convert drive_letter: /fs:ntfs, where drive_letter is the letter of the drive you want to convert, and then press ENTER. For example, convert E: /fs:ntfs would convert drive E to the NTFS format.

  4. Type the name of the volume you want to convert, and then press ENTER. To view the available volumes, click the Start button , and then click Computer. The volumes are listed under Hard Disk Drives.

If the partition you are converting contains system files—which would be the case if you are converting your entire hard disk—you will need to restart your computer for the conversion to take place. If your disk is almost full, the conversion process might not succeed. If you receive an error, try deleting unnecessary files, or back up files to another location, to free up disk space.