Windows 11, like its predecessors, supports various file systems, with FAT32 and NTFS being two of the most commonly used ones. FAT32 (File Allocation Table 32) and NTFS (New Technology File System) have their own advantages and disadvantages.

Despite being one of the most compatible and popular file systems, FAT32 continues to become more and more obsolete due to its limitations, security concerns, and compatibility issues.

Whether you're looking to convert from FAT32 to an NTFS file system without losing your data or are prepared for data loss, this article will walk you through the process using various methods available in Windows 11.

Why Convert to NTFS File System

FAT32 and NTFS are two different file systems. FAT32 supports volumes up to 2TB in size with a maximum file size of 4GB, lacks features like file compression, encryption, and advanced security permissions, and doesn't have journaling for crash recovery.

On the other hand, NTFS supports much larger volumes and file sizes (up to 16 exabytes), supports file compression and encryption, offers advanced security permissions, and is less prone to fragmentation issues. Plus, it supports journaling, a feature that enables it to keep track of changes made to files and the file system itself. It also picks up where it left off in the event of your computer crashing or experiencing unexpected power loss.

FAT32 is the 32-bit version of the FAT file system primarily used for USB drives, flash memory cards, and external hard drives. Similarly, the NTFS file system is a proprietary file system by Microsoft, and it is suitable for large-capacity disks.

NTFS is better suited for modern Windows systems, while FAT32 is often found on older Windows versions and removable devices due to its simpler capabilities.

Check the File System

To find the File System of a specific drive, follow these steps:

Press Windows+E to open File Explorer and go to 'This PC' page. Then, choose the desired drive, and either press Alt+Enter or right-click the drive, then click on 'Properties'.

Under the 'General' tab, check the 'File system' name

Convert FAT32 to NTFS without Losing Data in Windows 11

Before starting the process of converting FAT32 to NTFS, it's recommended to have some free space on the drive. So, if your drive is already quite full, consider freeing up some space before you begin.

Convert FAT32 to NTFS using Command Prompt

The Command Prompt offers an easy and efficient way to convert your file system from FAT32 to NTFS without the need for third-party tools. Follow these steps:

While the conversion process is generally safe, it's always better to back up your data before making any major changes to your file system.

To open Command Prompt with administrative privileges, type cmd in the Start menu and select the 'Run as administrator' option.

In the Command Prompt window, type the following command and press Enter:

convert DriveLetter: /fs:ntfs

In the above command, replace DriveLetter with the drive letter of the partition you want to convert.

For example:

convert L: /fs:ntfs

If your drive is still in use during the conversion attempt, you may be prompted to force the drive to dismount in order to proceed. If this happens, simply type Y and press Enter.

The conversion can take anywhere from a few seconds to a longer duration, depending on the drive's size, the data it holds, and your system's performance. Once the conversion is successful, you will see the 'Conversion complete' message.

If prompted, restart your computer to allow the conversion to take place during the boot process.

UseThird-Party Utilities to Convert FAT32 to NTFS

While the built-in methods in Windows 11 are generally reliable, you might prefer using third-party tools for more control over the conversion process. There are several tools available that offer file system conversion features. Some popular options include EaseUS Partition Master, AOMEI Partition Assistant, and MiniTool Partition Wizard. Let's see how to use EaseUS Partition Master:

Download and install EaseUS Partition Master from the official website. Open the software once it's installed.

From the main interface, select the drive you want to convert. Right-click on the drive, select 'Advanced', and then click on 'FAT32 to NTFS' from the context menu.

After that, click on 'Proceed'.

Check the changes and settings for the conversion. Then, click on the 'Apply' button to start the conversion process.

After the conversion is finished, click 'Done'.

If prompted, restart your computer to complete the conversion.

Convert FAT32 To NTFS with Data Loss on Windows 11

Converting a file system from FAT32 to NTFS without data loss (without formatting) can be a convenient way to switch to the NTFS file system. However, there are some advantages to choosing formatting when converting from FAT32 to NTFS.

Formatting provides a fresh start for the NTFS file system, decreasing the chances of data corruption and compatibility problems. This also improves overall performance, reduces data fragmentation, and it's better at working with modern software.

Convert FAT32 To NTFS File systems using Windows File Explorer

Essentially, formatting means erasing your current FAT32 file system along with all the files and replacing it with an empty NTFS drive. You can achieve this through various methods, but the fastest way is using Windows File Explorer.

First, open the This PC section in Windows File Explorer using the left navigation pane. Your drives will be listed under the Devices and Drives section.

To format a FAT32 drive, right-click on the desired drive and choose ‘Format’ from the context menu.

In the Format window, you can specify the name, file type, and formatting type. Be sure to choose NTFS from the File System drop-down menu. 

If you want to give your drive a name, enter a new label in the Volume label box. To quickly erase your drive, you can enable the Quick format checkbox.

When you're prepared to start formatting, click the ‘Start’ button.

Windows will ask for confirmation to proceed with the drive format, and it will warn you about the risk of data loss. Click ‘OK’ to confirm.

The speed of formatting will vary based on the drive's size and whether you've chosen the quick format option. After the NTFS formatting process is complete, you can start using the drive right away.

Convert FAT32 To NTFS file system using Disk Management

You can also use the Windows Disk Management tool to change a FAT32 drive to NTFS by formatting it. Just like the method mentioned earlier, keep in mind that this will erase your data, so make sure to back up your files before proceeding.

To open Disk Management, right-click the Start menu and select ‘Disk Management’.

In the Disk Management window, you'll see a list of your drives and volumes. To format a drive section, right-click on an entry in either the list of volumes (at the top) or disks (at the bottom), and then choose ‘Format’.

In the Format window, you can choose a name for the section and the type of file system. Pick ‘NTFS’ for the file system.

You might also want to click the box that says ‘Perform a quick format’ if you want a fast format, but if you want to completely erase the drive, leave this box unchecked. When you're ready, click ‘OK’ to confirm.

You'll get a message asking if you're sure you want to format the section and lose any saved files. Click ‘OK’ to go ahead.

At this point, the drive will be formatted. Once it's done, you'll see your newly formatted drive in Windows File Explorer, ready for you to use.

Convert FAT32 to NTFS with Data loss using the Command Prompt

You can also convert FAT32 to an NTFS file system by formatting the drive using Command Prompt.

First, open Command Prompt with administrative privileges. In the Command Prompt, type diskpart to open the DiskPart utility. It lets you manage disk partitions, volumes, and drives.

Next, type list volume to display a list of all available volumes (drives) on your computer.

In the list that appears, you'll see a column labeled 'Volume ###'. Replace # with the number of the volume you want to convert. Type select volume # to choose the specific volume you're interested in.

After selecting the volume, use the following command to format it as NTFS:

format fs=ntfs quick

Once the formatting is complete, you'll see the 'DiskPart successfully formatted the volume' message.

To leave the DiskPart utility and return to the regular Command Prompt, type exit.

That's it. Using the above methods, you can easily convert the FAT32 file system to NTFS in Windows 11, with or without data loss.