Convert NTFS partition to FAT32

Updated on: September 23, 2019

This article introduces how to convert NTFS to FAT32 partition without formatting or losing data. 1 Step to change partition with free NTFS to FAT32 converter.

Applies to: Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows Server 2019, Windows Server 2016, Windows Server 2012, Windows Server 2008, Windows Server 2003, Small Business Server (SBS) 2011/2008/2003.

Both NTFS and FAT32 are common file system in Windows computers. Because of some advantages, NTFS is much more popular no matter formatting disk partition DIY or from OEM manufacturers. However, sometimes you have to convert NTFS partition to FAT32. The typical example is that some NTFS USB disc or removable hard drive are not recognized.

Many people have Mac laptop and Windows desktop, if you want to transfer files via removable hard disk, partitions of this disk must be formatted as FAT32. NTFS partition cannot be recognized by Mac except you install some special utility.

About FAT32 and NTFS partition

The FAT (File Allocation Table) file system was the primary file system in Microsoft's older operating systems and, for the most part, NTFS has replaced it. However, all versions of Windows still support FAT16/32 and it's common for removable disks to use this type of file system.

FAT works like a chain and the Operating System maintains a hard disk by providing a map of the clusters (the basic units of logical storage on a hard disk). When you write a new file to a hard disk, the file is stored in one or more clusters that are not necessarily next to each other. When you read a file, the Operating System get the file list and locate file location via the table, and then get the entire data zone and other info.

The files that larger than 4GB can’t be saved to FAT32 partition.

NTFS (NT file system, also called as New Technology File System) is a newer file system that came after FAT, thus it has some advantages including but not full listed:

  1. Use of a b-tree directory scheme to keep track of file clusters.
  2. Information about a file's clusters and other data is stored with each cluster, not just a governing table (as FAT is).
  3. Support for very large files (up to 16 billion bytes in size).
  4. An access control list (ACL) that lets a server administrator control who can access specific files.
  5. Integrated file compression.
  6. Support for names based on Unicode.
  7. Support for long file names.
  8. Data security on both removable and fixed disks

Change NTFS to FAT32 via Diskpart and other native tools

It seems a bit complicated, but it is very easy to convert partition from NTFS to FAT32 with free partition software such as NIUBI Partition Editor Free. If you don't like to use 3rd party software, you have to reformat this NTFS partition.

Formatting will destroy all data in this partition, so remember to back up or transfer files before doing this.

To a NTFS partition which is larger than 32GB, you cannot reformat it to FAT32 with any Windows built-in tool.

Windows can manage 32+GB FAT32 partition, but it does not allow creating 32+GB FAT32 partition via all Windows built-in tools, or formatting a 32+GB NTFS partition to FAT32. To overcome this limitation, you have to run 3rd-party software.

If the NTFS partition that you want to format to FAT32 is smaller than 32GB, there are 4 ways.

4 ways to convert NTFS to FAT32 partition in Windows (destructively):

  1. Press Windows and R together on the keyboard, type diskmgmt.msc and press Enter to open Disk Management, right click this NTFS partition and select Format.
  2. Press Windows and E together to open File Explorer, right click the NTFS partition and select Format.
  3. Press Windows and R, type cmd and press Enter, type format /FS:FAT32 /Q X: X is the drive letter of the NTFS partition and /Q means quick format.
  4. Run diskpart command:

How to convert NTFS to FAT32 partition with diskpart command (destructively):

  1. Press Windows and R together on the keyboard, type diskpart and press Enter.
  2. Type list volume and press Enter in the diskpart command prompt window.
  3. Type select volume D and press Enter, (D is the number or drive letter of the partition that you want to convert to FAT32).
  4. Type format fs=FAT32 quick and press Enter. (quick means quick format and it is optional)

It costs several to over 10 minutes to execute if you format without quick mode. As you see, if I format a 32+GB NTFS partition to FAT32, diskpart reports error "Virtual Disk Service error: The volume size is too big".

If you format a 32+GB NTFS partition via Disk Management or in File Explorer, there is no FAT32 as an option.

Diskpart convert error

As comparison, a 32-GB NTFS partition can be converted to FAT32 without issue.

Convert success

If you want to convert NTFS to FAT32 partition without formatting or losing data, follow the method below.

Convert NTFS to FAT32 partition with free converter

With NIUBI Partition Editor, only 3 clicks are needed to complete converting. There's no partition size limit and converting can be done in a flash. To Windows 10, 8, 7, Vista, XP (32/64 bit) home users, there's free edition.

Download NIUBI Partition Editor, right click any NTFS partition (except System Reserved, system C: and small OEM) and select "Convert to FAT32".

Select NTFS drive

Click OK to confirm.

Confirm

Click Apply on top left to execute, done. (Any operations before clicking Apply only work in virtual mode and real disk partitions won't be modified.)

Apply converting

Watch the video how to convert NTFS partition to FAT32 with NIUBI:

Video guide

In Summary

Windows native tool including Disk Management, cmd and diskpart command can't convert a 32+GB NTFS partition to FAT32, to a 32-GB NTFS partition, all files will be lost after reformatting. With NIUBI Partition Editor Free, you can convert partition from NTFS to FAT32 without losing data fast and easily.

It also helps you convert MBR disk to GPTconvert Primary partition to Logical. Shrink, extend, move and merge partitions to optimize space usage, clone disk/partition to migrate OS and data, defrag, wipe, hide partition, scan bad sectors and much more.

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