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External USB HD from FAT -> NTFS?


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#1 OFFLINE   frapper

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:43 AM

Is is possible to change the file system on an external USB HD from FAT to NTFS without formatting and destroying the contents? Any magic programs out there? I was thinking that years ago maybe Partition Magic from PowerQuest did this. Thanks.
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#2 OFFLINE   lewmur

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:47 AM

QUOTE (frapper @ Mar 22 2012, 09:43 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is is possible to change the file system on an external USB HD from FAT to NTFS without formatting and destroying the contents? Any magic programs out there? I was thinking that years ago maybe Partition Magic from PowerQuest did this. Thanks.

XP had a built in utility for doing this.  See this link.

#3 OFFLINE   frapper

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 07:56 PM

Is there any drawback to converting an external USB HD to NTFS that you know of (other than that it can't revert to FAT)? I did find instructions for Win7.

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Close any open programs running on the partition or logical drive to be converted.
    Click the Start button Picture of the Start button, click All Programs, click Accessories, right-click Command Prompt, and then click Run as administrator. Administrator permission required If you are prompted for an administrator password or confirmation, type the password or provide confirmation.

    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.
    Type the name of the volume you want to convert, and then press ENTER. To view the available volumes, click the Start button Picture of 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.

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#4 OFFLINE   Tushman

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:02 PM

QUOTE (frapper @ Mar 22 2012, 06:56 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Is there any drawback to converting an external USB HD to NTFS that you know of (other than that it can't revert to FAT)?


FAT32 is slightly faster compared to NTFS - but I doubt it matters much if all you're doing is using the drive for storage.  NTFS is the way to go for any modern hard drives with big capacity.

In the so called "old days" (win XP), using the built-in converter made the drive use tiny cluster sizes (512 bytes) - I could be wrong about that.  Maybe things have improved in Windows 7 as far as conversion sizes are concerned.  If there's not too much data on the drive, I would be tempted to dump the files onto another hard drive; format it with NTFS; and copy the files back on.

#5 OFFLINE   frapper

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 09:10 PM

QUOTE (Tushman @ Mar 22 2012, 08:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I would be tempted to dump the files onto another hard drive; format it with NTFS; and copy the files back on.


That's a possibility too. It would be doable. I wanted to switch to NTFS because when I use it for Acronis images I'm limited to split files of about 4GB each, rather than having just one large image file.

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#6 OFFLINE   Tushman

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Posted 22 March 2012 - 10:21 PM

QUOTE (frapper @ Mar 22 2012, 08:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
That's a possibility too. It would be doable. I wanted to switch to NTFS because when I use it for Acronis images I'm limited to split files of about 4GB each, rather than having just one large image file.


Yeah that 4 GB file size limit does kinda get in the way of things.  When I make an image with Aconis, I prefer to have just one large image file but... that's just my own personal preference.  It depends on certain situations how large my system volume is.   My Windows 7 installation has grown to approx. 28 GB.  Even I if set images to high compression, those true image files come out to approx. 14 GB.  Not even a dual-layer DVD would accommodate such a large file.  If you switched over FAT32 and set Acronis to split your images to 4 gigs... you could use about 3 single layer DVDs to burn the entire image.

Overall, I prefer NTFS for the simple fact i don't have to worry about the 2 GB limit and the fact that NTFS is more robust.

Edited by Tushman, 22 March 2012 - 10:22 PM.





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