FAT32 or NTFS? Which format is better for backup?

The FAT file system has the advantage over NTFS of being compatible with many operating systems. Furthermore, many other devices such as digital cameras and MP3 players also use FAT32. In contrast, NTFS is only supported by Windows operating systems. A major disadvantage of the FAT file system, however, is its limited file size. The maximum file size for FAT32 is only 4 GB. This makes the FAT file system practically unusable for image backups.

If you perform an image backup to an external hard drive and then after a few minutes you get the error message "Disk full" appears although there is still enough space on the external hard disk, then it is because the external hard disk is set to the format "Fat32" formatted.

How to change my backup volume from FAT32 to NTFS

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1. connect the external hard drive to the computer

2. format the disk: Right-click the external hard drive icon and select "Format...":


3. here you can select a file system, choose here "NTFS" if this should not be in by default. In addition you select as a method best also the "Quick format" from, since the formatting without the hook on this option, much longer lasts.

4. format FAT32: Once you click on "Start", Windows will once again warn you that formatting will erase all data, confirm this process by clicking OK.

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After this process, the external hard drive will have the format "NTFS" and the data backups will now work properly.

Change the file system from FAT32 to NTFS without deleting files

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There is also a method to change the format on the fly without deleting files on it. This method is done via command line. Proceed as follows:

1. Go to „Start/All Programs/Accessories“ and right-click „Command Prompt“. Select the command „Run as administrator“ 

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2. At the command prompt, type „convert“ command – followed by the appropriate drive letter and „/fs:ntfs“ parameters. To convert the file format of the external USB hard drive with drive letter G: from FAT32 to NTFS, enter the following command: "convert G: /fs:ntfs".


3. Confirm the entry of this command by pressing "Enter" now.

This option reformats the format, but does not guarantee 100% success. In general, there is no risk of data loss, but you use it at your own risk. Microsoft writes the following about it:

„While the possibility of corruption or data loss is minimal, it is still recommended that you back up the data on the disk you plan to convert before converting it.“

We therefore recommend that you back up the data away again before formatting so that no data is lost in any case.

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About the Author , partner support
Sebastian Müller Sebastian Müller is partner and top customer support at Langmeier Software, making him the best person to talk to about Langmeier backup backup solutions.

Phone: +41 44 861 15 70
Email: sebastian@langmeier-software.com
 

Further lookup: Langmeier Backup, Datensicherung, NTFS, FAT32

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