By Emily / Last Updated March 10, 2022

Need to format external hard drive to NTFS

“How can I format USB drive from FAT32 to NTFS. I tried to transfer a 4.33 GB File to USB Stick,14.5 GB Free Space, message popped up saying File Is Too Large For The Destination File System. Please advise. Thanks.”

What is NTFS format?

NTFS (New Technology File System) is a proprietary journaling file system introduced by Microsoft in 1993. It is the default file system of the Windows NT family. When you add a new hard drive to your computer, you will be asked to format the drive. And NTFS is one of the common given file system options, another option is FAT32; but what their difference is.

Their key differences mainly focus on the following factors:
1. FAT32 is an older file system whereas NTFS is relatively newer;
2. FAT32 is simple while the NTFS structure is quite complicated;
3. NTFS can support large file and volume size but FAT32 only supports 4GB file and 32GB partition at maximum.
4. FAT32 does not provide encryption and much security while NTFS is enabled with security and encryption;
5. NTFS performance is a bit better than FAT32 because it offers fault tolerance;
6. The file transfer and access speed is faster in NTFS partition than FAT32;
7. It is easy to convert NTFS to FAT file system; however, it will be difficult to convert FAT to NTFS file system.

Common ways to format external hard drive to NTFS in Windows 11/10/8/7

Users might need to format hard drives to NTFS for any one of its advantages. So how can you format the external hard drive to NTFS file system Windows 10/8/7? Generally, you can first try Windows native tools: Disk Management, File Explorer and Diskpart. The following content provides specific steps.

Warning: Because the formatting process will delete all data on the external hard drive, please make sure you have already a file backup.

Method 1. Disk Management

1. Right click “My Computer/This PC” on the desktop, select “Manage”>“Storage”> “Disk Management” to open Disk Management.

2. Right click on the external hard drive to format and click on “Format…”in the drop-down menu.

3. Select “NTFS” in the “File system” box and then tick “Perform a quick format”.

4. Click “OK” to format the drive and wait until finished.

Select File System

Method 2. Window File Explorer

1. Double click “My Computer/This PC” to open File Explorer. Right click the drive you need to format and select “Format…”.

2. In the pop-out mini window, choose “NTFS” under File System volume. Tick “Quick Format” and click “Start”.


Method 3. Diskpart Command Line

1. Open Command Prompt windows: click “Start” button, input “cmd” in the “Search” box, right click the Command Prompt icon and select “Run as administrator”.

2. Type the following commands in sequence and press Enter after each.

  • diskpart

  • list disk

  • select disk #: # represents the disk number

  • list partition: to get how many partitions on the chosen disk

  • select partition #: # represents the partition number

  • format fs=ntfs quick

Diskpart Format Ntfs

3. Then type “exit” to leave the Diskpart service.

Cannot format external hard drive to NTFS

Usually, the above 3 methods can help you format hard drive to NTFS successfully. However, sometimes they cannot format external hard drive to NTFS as expected like the below real user story:

“I have an LG external hard drive which I unplugged one day without doing the safe eject. Now it won't work. The computer recognizes its existence on the F drive and disk management says the status is healthy but it will not format. Under File system, the drive is described as RAW. I do not want to throw it away and buy a new one. Any help would be much appreciated.”

When your external hard drive becomes RAW file system or write protected due to corrupted file system, the Windows built-in formation methods cannot finish the formatting task as usual.

Freeware to format external hard drive to NTFS in Windows

If you meet the above situation and cannot format external hard drive to NTFS file system, you need a third-party partition manager to force format it. Here we recommend using AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. This freeware is powerful enough to format RAW/corrupted/read only external hard drive to NTFS as well as other popular file systems like FAT32/exFAT/Ext2/Ext3/Ext4. Besides, it can resize/move/delete/merge/copy partition and convert data disk between MBR and GPT (especially you want to use Windows 11) without data loss.

Download Freeware Win 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download

1. Download, install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Right click the partition you need to format to NTFS file system and choose “Format Partition”.

Format Raw Partition

2. In the mini window, choose “NTFS” from the file system drop-down menu and click “OK”. You can also set partition label to quickly distinguish it from others in future and change cluster size.

Format Raw To Ntfs

3. Click “Apply” and then “Proceed” to start formatting process.


How do I convert to NTFS?

If your external hard drive is with FAT32 file system, now you need to format it to NTFS. AOMEI Partition Assistant offers “NTFS to FAT32 Converter”, allowing you to execute “convert” operation between FAT32 and NTFS file systems. That means you can directly convert FAT32 to NTFS instead of formatting and vice versa, so your data on the partition will stay safe.

FAT32 NTFS Converter


With the 4 effective methods, you can easily format external hard drive to NTFS file system in Windows 10/8/7. Worth to mention that AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard is a versatile disk partition management tool for Windows 11/10/8/7 users.

If you want to enjoy more amazing functions such as migrating Windows drive between MBR and GPT disk, quick partitioning a hard disk, and recovering lost partitions, splitting a large partition into two smaller ones, extend NTFS system partition without reboot, etc, you can upgrade to AOMEI Partition Assistant Professional. For Windows Server users, the AOMEI Partition Assistant Server is worth a shot.