In this article
The file systems NTFS and FAT32 are used in the Windows operating system. In the following sections of this article, you'll understand the distinctions between NTFS and FAT32, when to use NTFS or FAT32, and how to convert NTFS to FAT32. For now, here are the workable solutions to convert NTFS to FAT32 with and without losing data.
Convert NTFS to FAT32 By Formatting (With Data Loss)
Convert NTFS to FAT32 Without Losing Data
Use Windows File Explorer
Use AOMEI Partition Assistant
Use Disk Management
Why Convert NTFS to FAT32?
NTFS and FAT32 are two file systems that allow Windows to read data from hard drive partitions. Because FAT32 is an older file system than NTFS, it has excellent compatibility with various operating systems. As a result, it is widely used in external hard drives. On the other hand, a FAT32-formatted partition cannot store a single file larger than 4GB in size.
Even though FAT32 has inherent limitations, many users are looking for a way to convert NTFS to FAT32.
NTFS vs. FAT32 - Which One Is Better?
FAT32 was used in earlier operating systems such as DOS and Windows before XP. Additionally, FAT32 is still the default format for some external storage devices, such as SD memory cards and USB flash drives for Windows users.
After FAT32, Microsoft developed NTFS, a newer file system. It is the default file system of the Windows NT family, including the latest Windows operating system.
For additional information, here's a table comparing NTFS and FAT32:
Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Server 2003/Vista/7/8/8.1/10, Windows Server 2008/2008 R2/2012, Windows NT 3.1 to Windows NT 4.0, GNU/Linux, macOS X
Linux, macOS, All Windows versions, Gaming consoles like the Xbox One, PS3, PS4, and the Steam Deck
Maximum Volume Size
-16TB - 16 EiB: Windows 11/10/8 (GPT)
32GB - 2TB
Maximum File Size
Both compression and recoverability are viable.
It does not support file compression. There is no built-in security or recoverability.
Maximum Number of Files
268,173,300 for 32 KB clusters
When Should You Use NTFS or FAT32?
There are two common scenarios where people search online for a way to convert NTFS to FAT32:
Although the USB Drive is NTFS, the computer does not recognize the BIOS file. The user needs to change the USB Drive format from NTFS to FAT32 to fix the problem.
The user likes to back up the NTFS partition. However, their backup software does not support NFTS and only FAT. As a result, they need to convert NTFS to FAT32.
So, when should you use NTFS or FAT32? Here are some standard NTFS and FAT32 usages to help you decide whether you need NTFS or FAT32:
- NTFS is the best file system to use when installing Windows 11/10/8/7 and newer. FAT32 is reserved for older operating systems (Windows XP and older).
- FAT32 is the best choice for file transfers on non-Windows operating systems, as long as your files are less than 4GB.
- FAT32 is the best file system for external storage devices smaller than 64GB, such as USB drives and SD cards.
- FAT32 is the best file system to use when setting the default file system for most game controllers or game drives.
How To Convert NTFS to FAT32 By Formatting (With Data Loss)
FAT32 is widely used, particularly on external storage devices and file transfers. So, how do you switch the file system from NTFS to FAT32? This section will cover three methods that will allow you to convert NTFS to FAT32 easily.
Because most NTFS to FAT32 converters requires formatting, it is recommended that you back up your important data to secure data ahead of time. You can back up data using free backup software.
Method 1: Format NTFS to FAT32 Use Windows File Explorer
For most Windows users, a simple way to convert NTFS to FAT32 is to use the built-in FAT32 formatted in Windows, the Windows File Explorer.
Let's take a look at how to format your storage device to FAT32:
Step 1. Connect your external storage device or hard drive to your Windows PC.
Double-click This PC/My Computer to open File Explorer.
Step 2. Locate the USB drive and right-click it. Select Format.
Step 3. Set FAT32 as the target file system, and check Quick Format.
Then, click Start to begin formatting.
Once you've completed the formatting, click OK to confirm. Your device is now formatted in FAT32.
Method 2: Format NTFS to FAT32 Use Disk Management
You can also use the Windows Disk Management tool to format a drive in the FAT32 file system. However, you can only format a drive with up to 32 GB capacity. If the drive size exceeds this limit, the format option for the selected drive will be unavailable.
How to format NTFS to FAT32 via disk management? See the following step-by-step tutorial:
Step 1. Right-click This PC, select Manage and then look for Disk Management under Storage.
Then, in the middle pane, right-click the partition whose file system we want to convert and select Format.
Step 2. Drop down the file system box in the pop-up window and select FAT32 as the target file system.
Step 3. Windows will notify you that all data on the drive will be erased.
Click OK to confirm our action. Then we finished converting FAT.
Method 3: Change NTFS to FAT32 Via CMD
Unlike Windows File Explorer and Disk Management, DiskPart performs advanced management tasks on Windows and Windows Server systems.
To use the DiskPart command line to change NTFS to FAT32, take the following steps:
Connect the storage device to your PC that needs to be converted from NTFS to FAT32.
Step 1. Enter cmd into Windows Search, then right-click Command Prompt and choose Run as administrator.
Step 2. In the Command Prompt window, type diskpart and press Enter.
Step 3. Enter the following command lines one at a time:
- list disk
- select disk 0(Replace 0 with the disk number of your target device)
- list volume
- select volume 2(Replace 2 with the volume number of your device)
- format fs=fat32 quick
Step 4. When the formatting process is finished, type exit to exit DiskPart.
After that, your device is now formatted in FAT32.
Bonus Tips: How To Recover Data From Formatted Hard Drives
Formatting NTFS to FAT32 by the mentioned methods above will erase all the data. If you find that you lost some important files after formatting, you can use data recovery software like Wondershare Recoverit to help restore them.
Recover over 1000 types of data types, like photos, videos, emails, files, audios, etc.
Recover data from numerous scenarios. Be it due to files being overwritten, a system crash, accidental formatting or virus attack, Recoverit is able to make a total recovery.
Recover from any storage device, such as Hard Drive, Desktop, USB Drive, SSD, SD card, recycle bin, etc.
Ensure 100% data safe and easy operations.
How To Use Recoverit to Recover Lost Data from Formatted Hard Drives
Wondershare Recoverit is a highly secure recovery software for Windows that supports the FAT32 file systems. Recoverit is all you need if you have a logical Windows FAT32 file that has been deleted, formatted, or corrupted. Whether you use your damaged or failed disks and storage media internally or externally makes no difference.
Follow the steps below to recover lost or deleted files using Wondershare Recoverit.
Step 1. Choose the drive/file location.
Wondershare Recoverit will detect all external storage devices connected to your system automatically. To begin FAT32 recovery, select All-Around Recovery mode.
Step 2. Scan for lost files.
Select the target hard drive location and click Start to scan for lost data. Wait until the scanning process is finished.
Step 3. Preview and Recover.
After the scan, go to the list of recovered files and click Recover to save them.
How To Convert NTFS to FAT32 Without Losing Data
AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is an effective partition manager that allows you to convert file systems from NTFS to FAT32 without losing data or formatting selected drives.
- It will format large-sized partitions to FAT32, such as a 64GB SD card, a 500GB external hard drive, or a 1TB external hard drive.
- The software is fully compatible with Windows 10, 8, 8.1, 7, XP, and Vista.
- It can download in a free version.
To convert NTFS to FAT32 without losing data, follow these steps:
Step 1. Install and run the free AOMEI software.
On the left, select All Tools > NTFS to FAT32 Converter. It will launch a small program.
Step 2. Select the method of conversion. Select NTFS to FAT32.
Step 3. Select an NTFS partition from the list.
The partition can be identified by the partition size and drive letter.
Step 4. After reviewing the operation, click Proceed.
Additional Information about AOMEI Partition Assistant
Upgrade to the Professional Version of the AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard for $39.95 per year or a $69.95 one-time payment. The AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional has the following advanced features:
- In preparation for a Windows 11 upgrade, it converts an MBR system disk to a GPT disk.
- It increases disk space utilization and resizes/expands partitions without losing data.
- It can migrate the operating system to an SSD or HDD without reinstalling Windows.
Q1. How can I convert NTFS to FAT32 for free?
A1: For free, you can format NTFS to FAT32 using Windows File Explorer, Disk Management, and CMD. These methods can lose your data, so back up your essential data with the proper software. If you want to format NTFS to FAT32 without data loss, you can use AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard.
Q2. How can I convert NTFS to exFAT without formatting?
A2: It is impossible to convert a hard drive from NTFS to exFAT without first formatting it. It is recommended to make a backup of your files before formatting them to ex-FAT. In Mac, NTFS will be read-only. However, in Mac, you can use read-write compatibility for all NTFS-formatted USB drives.
Q3. Is NTFS better thanFAT32?
A3: It's still a debate. You cannot store individual files larger than 4GB in the FAT32 file system, but it is possible in the NTFS file system. NTFS has a higher disk utilization and can manage disk space more effectively than FAT32. NTFS's read-and-write access speeds are also faster than FAT32's.
You can easily format NTFS to FAT32 using Windows File Explorer, Disk Management, and CMD. These three methods may cause data loss, so back up your important files with the appropriate recovery software. You can free use AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard to format NTFS to FAT32 without losing data.
With the help of backup recovery tools of Wondershare Recoverit, you can rest assured that you will not have data loss.