How to use Convert.exe to convert a partition to the NTFS file system

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Article ID: 214579 - View products that this article applies to.
This article was previously published under Q214579
For a Microsoft Windows XP version of this article, see 314097.
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SUMMARY

Windows supports two disk file systems: the FAT file system and the NTFS file system. This article explains how to convert a FAT partition into an NTFS partition, and the considerations to take into account.

MORE INFORMATION

For additional informationabout the differences between the FAT and NTFS file systems, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
100108 Overview of FAT, HPFS, and NTFS file systems
NOTE: Windows NT 4.0 no longer supports the HPFS file system.

The Convert.exe utility is supplied with Windows to convert a FAT partition into an NTFS partition. Use of Convert.exe is straight forward, but there are considerations that should be taken into account before using the utility.

The following limitations should be recognized before converting a FAT partition to NTFS:
  • The conversion is a one-way process. After a partition has been converted to NTFS, it is not possible to convert the partition back to a FAT partition. To restore the partition as a FAT partition, the partition would have to be reformatted as FAT (which would erase all data from the partition) and then data can be restored from backup.
  • The system partition of a RISC-based computer cannot be changed to NTFS. The ARC specification requires that the system partition be FAT. It is possible to create a small (1 MB) FAT partition for the system partition and install Windows on an NTFS partition (the boot partition).
  • Convert.exe requires a certain amount of free space be present on the drive in order to convert the file system. For additional information about the amount of free space required for a conversion, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
    156560 Free space required to convert FAT to NTFS
NOTE: Although the chance of corruption or data loss during the conversion from FAT to NTFS is minimal, it is best to perform a full backup of the data on the drive that it is to be converted prior to executing the convert command. It is also recommended to verify the integrity of the backup before proceeding, as well as to run RDISK and update the emergency repair disk (ERD).

To convert a FAT partition to NTFS, perform the following steps.
  1. Click Start, click Programs, and then click Command Prompt.
  2. At the command prompt, type CONVERT [driveletter]: /FS:NTFS.
  3. Convert.exe will attempt to convert the partition to NTFS.

CONVERT may present the following error:
Convert cannot gain exclusive access to the [driveletter]:, so it cannot convert it now. Would you like to schedule it to be converted the next time the system restarts (Y/N)?
This error will occur if any of the following three conditions exist:
  • If you run the CONVERT command while the current directory is on the drive that is to be converted (for example, you type CONVERT F: /FS:NTFS at the F:\> prompt). To solve this, either answer "Yes" to the prompt and restart the system, or change to a directory on another drive and retype the command.
  • If an application has a file open on the drive that is to be converted. To solve this, either answer "Yes" to the prompt and the drive will be converted the next time the computer is restarted, or close any applications that may be using files on the drive to be converted. Remember that this also applies to users accessing files on the drive over the network. This also includes a page file that resides on the drive.
  • If you attempt to convert the partition from which the operating system is running. It is not possible to convert the boot partition while the operating system is running. To convert the boot partition, it will always be necessary to issue the CONVERT command, answer Yes to the prompt, and then restart the computer. The partition will be converted the next time the computer is restarted. As an alternative, it is possible to boot the computer to an installation of Windows on a different partition and convert the partition from that installation of Windows.
Note Default NTFS Permissions are not applied to a converted boot partition.

For additional information, click the following article number to view the article in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:
237399 The default NTFS permissions are not applied to a converted boot partition

Properties

Article ID: 214579 - Last Review: February 20, 2007 - Revision: 3.2
APPLIES TO
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Advanced Server
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Professional Edition
  • Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Server
  • Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Standard Edition
  • Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Developer Edition
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