By Emily / Last Updated March 10, 2022

Why format an external hard drive to NTFS?

For different operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, there always is a different file system to organize and store data. So it is of great importance for us to select a proper one for our requirements. Here are a few popular file systems we should know:

▶exFAT: it is a good choice if you often work with Windows and Mac computers. It could make transferring files between those two operating systems much easier because you don’t need to back up and reformat the drive each time. Besides, this file system inherits something popular from FAT32 including the wonderful compatibility.

▶FAT32: it is originally designed to replace FAT16. It is quite old like Windows 95, so it works well on some old systems. But it has obvious file and partition size limitations. Its filenames could not surpass 8 characters and a single file can not exceed 4GB, so it is not ideal for large files like movies. Besides, you cannot install newer versions of Windows on a FAT32 system.

▶NTFS: it stands for New Technology File System. Compared with FAT file systems, it could support metadata and advanced data structures to improve performance, reliability, and disk space use. Also, it supports large file size and partition.

After scanning over the brief introduction to exFAT, FAT32 and NTFS, we can easily come to a conclusion: the NTFS is much better in performance, compatibility, and security. So many users decide to format external hard drive to NTFS before using it for the first time, or plan to convert exFAT or FAT32 to NTFS after several days of usage.

Format external hard drive to NTFS via Disk Management

If you have an external drive you only use with Windows computers, you may wonder how to format an external hard drive to NTFS effortlessly. You can make use of Windows native Disk management.

Note: when you format an external hard drive, it means all the content on it will be erased. If you care the data on this drive, you can try AOMEI Backupper to make a backup.

(1) Right-click on This PC->Manage->Disk Management in the left side.

(2) Right-click the hard drive you want to format, and choose "Format...".

Format in DM

(3) A mini window pops out, on which you can choose "NTFS" and hit "OK".

DM Choose Filesystem

(4) Then a note will appear to remind you that formatting will erase all the data. Click "OK" to continue the process if the backup has already been made.

Please Note:
①The Disk Management could only format external hard drive from FAT32 and exFAT to NTFS in Windows10/8/7, but it cannot format Ext3/4 filesystem since the Windows could not recognize them.
②If the external hard drive file system is damaged and becomes RAW format or write-protected, Disk Management will be unable to format it to NTFS or other file systems, either.

Freeware to format external hard drive to NTFS 

In order to get around the limitations of Disk Management and format external hard drive to NTFS more flexibly, here we would like to share the freeware-AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. It is compatible with Windows 10/8/7 and Windows XP/Vista, being capable of formatting (external) hard drive to NTFS, exFAT, FAT32, Ext2, Ext3, or Ext4. Even when the hard drive is of RAW or read only mode due to a damaged file system, it could successfully format them, a big advantage over Disk Management. Now download the freeware and learn how to operate.

Download Freeware Win 10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

(1) Install and run it. Right-click the disk (here take Ext3 partition for example) you need to format and choose “Format Partition”.

Format Ext3 Partition

(2) In the mini window, choose "NTFS" under the file system and Click "OK".

Choose Ntfs

(3) Back to the main interface and click "Apply" in the top left corner to execute the pending operation.


Bonus feature: if the external hard drive is with FAT32, you can directly convert it to NTFS without formatting via "NTFS to FAT32 Converter" offered by AOMEI Partition Assistant. It could directly convert FAT32 to NTFS and vice versa without damaging inside data.

Fat32 To Ntfs


After checking out this article, you must know how to format external hard drive to NTFS now via Disk Management or third-party software. The introduced freeware can also help clone NTFS partition and other partitions, wipe partition, move partition, merge partition, and more. To enjoy more advanced functions like allocate free space from one partition to another, transfer OS to SSD between MBR and GPT disk, convert boot disk to MBR/GPT without removing volumes, you can upgrade to Professional edition.