By Emily / Last Updated February 4, 2021

Should I format USB to NTFS or FAT32?

NTFS and FAT32 are two common file system for Windows operating system. However, it is tough for users to make a decision between NTFS and FAT32 when it comes to formatting a USB flash drive in Windows 10, 8, 7. FAT32 uses the File Allocation Table to describe the allocation stats of the clusters in a file system and the link relationship between each. NTFS is introduced as a replacement for the FAT file system; it makes use of advanced data structure to improve reliability, disk space utilization and overall performance.

Besides, their most significant difference lies in the file size and partition size limit. The FAT32 only supports a single file up to 4GB and a volume up to 2TB in size. So, you can not save a single file over 4GB to FAT32 partition, and you can format 2TB hard drive to FAT32 at most. By contrast, the NTFS can support volume as large as 256TB, and its file size support tops out at 16EiB. So, for most users, it is suggested to format the USB flash drive to NTFS especially when they need to store large files on USB.

How to format USB flash drive to NTFS in Windows 10, 8, 7?

To format USB flash drive to NTFS file system in Windows 10, 8, 7 operating system, you can use Windows native tools such as Windows Disk Management, File Explorer or DiskPart Command Line.

Warning: Back up important files on the USB flash drive if necessary because the formatting process will wipe out everything on the drive.

Method 1. Disk Management

1. Right click “My Computer/This PC” on the desktop, select “Manage”>”Storage”> “Disk Management” to open Disk Management. Or use “Windows+R” key to open Run window. Then type "Diskmgmt.msc" and click "OK" key.

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.

Format NTFS

Method 2. File Explorer

1. Double click “My Computer/This PC” to open File Explorer. Right-click the USB flash 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”.

Format NTFS

Method 3. DiskPart Command Line

1. Press “Windows+R” key to open Run window. Then type "diskpart" and click "OK" key to open DiskPart.exe window.

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

  • list disk

  • select disk #: # is the disk number

  • list partition: list all partitions on the chosen disk

  • select partition #: # is the partition number

  • format fs=ntfs quick

DiskPart Format NTFS

Freeware to format USB flash drive to NTFS more easily

Above 3 Windows inbuilt formatting tools can help format a USB flash drive to NTFS file system. However, sometimes users find they cannot format USB to NTFS. That will happen when the USB file system is corrupted. In such case, you can turn to the free partition manager: AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. This freeware can force format a device, the file system of which is damaged, to NTFS successfully.

Besides, compared with Windows native formatting methods, it is also able to format 32GB+ hard drive to FAT32, format partition to Ext4, Ext3 and Ext2 Linux file system. Now, you can download the free software and follow the steps to format USB flash drive to NTFS file system.

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

Step 1. Install and launch AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard. Right-click the USB drive and select “Format Partition”.

Format Partition

Step 2. Choose the NTFS under the “File System” drop-down menu, and click on “OK”.

NTFS

Step 3. Click on “Apply” and “Proceed” to commit the pending operation.

Apply

If you plan to format USB flash drive from FAT32 to NTFS, you can also try the “NTFS to FAT32 Converter”, which can directly convert file systems between FTA32 and NTFS without reformatting or losing data.

Fat32 To Ntfs

Summary

Here, we have discussed the difference between FAT32 and NTFS, told why you should format a USB flash drive to NTFS file system. Besides, 4 methods are listed for you to finish the formatting task. Apart from format features, the free AOMEI Partition Assistant Standard also comes with many other features like “partition clone”, “disk clone”, “migrate OS to SSD wizard”, “merge partition”, etc. To enjoy more advanced functions like “split partition”, “convert dynamic disk to basic one without losing data”, “quick partitioning a hard drive”, you can upgrade to Professional edition.