Correct way of converting from FAT32 to NTFS?

By 1sagestar8
May 25, 2009
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  1. I am a novice with a lot of computer books. :) I have a FAT32, 53 GB, C drive partition, Volume Label: ACER. I wish to convert it to an NTFS. I have read that to do this correctly and to prevent the MFT from becoming fragmented, that I must first create a new contiguous placeholder file equal to the expected size of the MFT I want to create. My readings told me: "The default size of the MFT equals 12.5 percent of the partition size. If the partition is larger than 40 GB, use 4 GB as the MFT size because FAT drives cannot have a file larger than 4 GB. Use the Fsutil command. Use the following syntax: fsutil createnew c:\testfile.txt (and the size of the placeholder file here, no parentheses). You can use any legal file name." I understand that 4 GB equals 4,294,967,296 bytes. I am over my head here, so I do not know the simple things, for example, where the book said "c:\testfile.txt ", is that literally what I am supposed to type? When it says, "You can use any legal file name." I wish the book had told me exactly what file name to use for this specific purpose. When inputting the size of the placeholder file in bytes, do I include the commas? Should I round down the file size, so as to avoid going beyond the allowed 4 GB size by a few bytes and having the operation fail? I would like for you to please tell me exactly what to type into the command prompt window. Then when I have created the placeholder file, I would like you to, please, tell me exactly what to type in the command window to carry out the conversion from FAT32 to NTFS. Please used the file name that you told me to use when I created the placeholder file, etc. I really don't know these things. :eek: One book said to follow this syntax: convert c: /fs:ntfs /cvtarea:testfile.txt Another book said to follow this syntax: CONVERT <volume> /FS:NTFS [/V] [/X] [/CvtArea: <filename>] [/NoSecurity] on this last book, I haven't got a clue as to whether the "brackets" are to be included, or whether command prompt window is "case sensitive" and I should capitalize exactly as stated, or what. I expect that the < > are not included. This latter book described what the options and switches signified, for example /V is verbose mode, etc. Thanks.
  2. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    A FAT32 C: drive partition? I'm going to guess you're still running an older version of windows? (like maybe Windows 2000)

    I know Vista defrags MFT. I think XP as well (would have to double check XP)

    but assuming you really are W2K, take a look here might help provide info for W2k (have you considered upgrading your OS?)
  3. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thank you, LookinAround. for your quick reply. I am using Windows XP Professional.
  4. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    You know how books can be sometimes... I was quoting from Microsoft Windows XP Professional Administrator's Pocket Consultant, pages 308-309, and Microsoft Windows XP Inside Out Deluxe Edition, pages 922-923. The conversion command is simple enough, it was the telling of, "To improve your system's performance, run the Convert command with the /Cvtarea switch. This allows the master file table (MFT), the index of all the files and folders on the selected volume, to be created in a single space, rather than being fragmented. Although the Windows XP Disk Defragmenter utility can work with the MFT, it cannot move the first fragment. This limitation practically guarantees that the MFT will be fragmented..."
  5. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    well for convert command usage i can point you here
    => Parameter within [] square brackets are optional. (and the [] brackets themselves aren't part of the command. They only show you what parameters are optional

    And from the quick read it said to run fsutil command before convert command to "pre-allocate" a single block of contiguous disk space for the MFT. fsutil command here
  6. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    also from the quick read...

    1) Appears the convert command option you ask about is specific for converting FAT to NTFS so to start with a contiguous MFT (and I haven't needed convert so can't provide you any first-hand info about it)
    2) But for general reference you might also find this helpful tho i don't know how much of it might be redundant (vs. helpful) of whatever you have used till now.

    But the link i provided includes specific info about conversion
    • Using Convert.exe to Convert FAT Volumes to NTFS
    • Converting Volumes in Use
    • Windows XP Professional is installed on the volume to be converted, or the volume contains the paging file
    • Using the /CVTAREA Parameter
    • How Convert.exe Safeguards Data During the Conversion
    • as well as Defragmenting NTFS Volumes

    And, (maybe someone else who knows could comment) as it appears XP does defrag for you.. not clear that IF any defrag occurs during conversion it stays defragged after normal defrag operations
  7. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Thanks LookinAround for the links. I had actually been to the Microsoft TechNet, link, earlier today. Thanks for the explanation about the brackets. Any chance of you just telling exactly what to input into the command prompt, as I requested in my original post. Meaning, Step 1: Type this, exactly, to create the placeholder file... Step 2: Type this, exactly, to convert your FAT32 drive to a NTFS drive. And ideally speaking using the same options and switches that I outlined in the original post, that the books described. I have been going through a ton of books, but they are all not telling me exactly what to input. They are saying, for example "c:\testfile.txt", then saying, "You can use any legal file name." I don't know what file name to use for this purpose of creating a placeholder file for the MFT. If I were thinking what file name to use, expecting that the MFT is going to go in that disk space, I would think to call the file "MFT" but what is this "testfile.txt", that the book tells of? I don't understand why they just don't keep it simple and tell the reader exactly what to type in. Thanks
  8. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    simply giving you the commands should be easy.

    It's trying to tell you what the right size for that file you must first create using fsutil that's the unknown

    but i;ll take a look and post back (but may take up to 24hrs till i have the chance to take a look thru the relevant stuff)
  9. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hello, again, LookinAround. I just saw your last post # 6, after I had posted #7. I just wanted to thank you, again, for all the effort that you have put into helping me with this issue. I understand that it is not something of which you have first hand experience. Perhaps, as you suggested, someone else who has, will be able to help shed more light on the subject. Thanks.
  10. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    In my original post I quoted the book as saying, "The default size of the MFT equals 12.5 percent of the partition size. If the partition is larger than 40 GB, use 4 GB as the MFT size because FAT drives cannot have a file larger than 4 GB." Since my C drive partition is 53 GB, it seems like the file size has to be 4 GB, which I believe equals 4,294,967,296 bytes, the largest file size that can be on a FAT32 drive. From the link you sent me we read, "You must create the placeholder file by using the fsutil file createnew command prior to running convert. Convert does not create this file for you. Convert overwrites this file with NTFS metadata. After conversion, any unused space in this file is freed."
  11. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    "You must create the placeholder file by using the fsutil file createnew command prior to running convert. Convert does not create this file for you. Convert overwrites this file with NTFS metadata. After conversion, any unused space in this file is freed." What file NAME does it overwrite? That's the rub. That is what I am trying to figure out. What to name the placeholder file, so that the convert utility knows where to place (overwrite) the file for the MFT placement on the disk.
  12. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    Yep. Understand what you're saying (and quoting) but what i didn't mention was as i quickly googled/skimmed through MS technet and other relevant docs, i noticed some additional interesting and (maybe also) pertinent stuff that makes me hesitate before dictating what you should do (e.g. this MS KB for XP was quite interesting) For anyone who happens to run Vista they should look here

    So is just that i want to look through a bit more info (then you quoted) to make certain of what info is most up-to-date and applies for your case (as MS has also been publishing much about XP since it first came out and some things have changed)
  13. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hi, LookinAround, "(e.g. this MS KB for XP was quite interesting)", is very interesting, indeed. Thanks! A good one! A bit much for a regular guy like me but I will make my way through it. I need a break, now. I have been trying to deal with my drive conversion deal since I first woke up today; along with several other crazy computer issues. Thanks, again, and again.
     
  14. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    Well, then put this off and think about it tomorrow... but as you also mention "other computer issues"... do you have Windows install CDs and might you be better off just doing a new and clean install? (where you can simply do a fresh full NTFS drive format). This would mean you also
    => A full/complete backup (would advise you a ghost backup tool like Acronis True Image) as guarantees not only file/folder backup but you could restore the complete disk image if need be
    => Review Add/Remove programs to assure you have install CDs or sources for all the Windows installed software
    => Make sure you have the product ID for any paid installed software as well (as you'll be re-prompted)

    This could avoid issues of "best way" to convert FAT to NTFS / avoiding MFT fragmentation as well as just fix other issues (and "ghosting" your hard drive even provides fall back should you need to revert to your current hard drive image)
  15. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    No, LookinAround, my computer is doing great. I just want to convert the FAT32 C drive to NTFS. The other two crazy things were just dumb things. One is, I am trying to figure out how to change the Administrator password on another Laptop of mine, because I forgot it, and I have not been able to get a good answer from my research, and two, on the computer that I am trying convert the C drive, in Outlook 2003, when I compose, or reply to, email, I am getting a much larger text displayed, than the size I have the Mail Format set to; as when you have Word set to 175 % size. But never mind those things, I just wanted to let you know that my computer is very fine.
  16. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hello LookinAround, any new findings to share? Would you know why no one has taken an interest in sharing their thoughts on this matter? I read the links you shared with me and there is little doubt that to convert from FAT32 to NTFS correctly, one should create a placeholder file to be used by the conversion tool, but which is not created by the conversion tool. What I have still not been able to know is what that placeholder file needs to be NAMED in order for the conversion tool to be able to know that it is the file intended for the location of the MFT and the area of the drive to be overwritten by the conversion tool for the purpose of holding the MFT.
  17. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    Note the following:

    The filename itself isn't important.
    What's important is a) it's a legal filename and b) you use the same filename in all commands (see below)

    Defrag your hard drive BEFORE anything else
    One important factor BEFORE you run the commands is to defrag your current filesystem 'cuz you can't allocate a single big MFT in the first place if you don't have a set of contiguous disk blocks that size in the first place

    Use contig utility to help assure you can create that single contiguous file
    You should also use a utility called contig you download from here. Download and unzip and put contig.exe in C:\Windows\System32

    So after downloading contig and defragging
    Below is an example of the commands to use assuming you want to create a 4GB single file
    Code:
    [B]fsutil file createnew myMFT.txt [I]4294967295[/I]
    contig myMFT.txt
    convert c: /FS:NTFS /CvtArea:myMFT.txt[/B] 
  18. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    and btw.. based on how full your drive is (and how things are laid out on it) will be interesting to see if it's actually possible to allocate a 4GB contiguous file on your hard drive's current partition!

    one thought: do you need to have a single 40GB partition in the first place? You might 1st repartition your drive and create e.g. 2 partitions

    => You must have your MFT on C: partition
    => And recommend you also keep all of Windows and Program Files on C
    => But you an easily move My Documents folder (with all your files) and all My Documents for every userid to the new partition (see here)
  19. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hello and a big thanks, LookinAround! It is after 1:00 AM here in Miami, and I have a very early and full day tomorrow, so I will process these last few posts of yours tomorrow. Not being very knowledgeable, I am not as easy to move around and do things such as make a partition... You wrote: "one thought: do you need to have a single 40GB partition in the first place?" Did you mean 4 GB? Were you referring to the 4 GB placeholder file? Because I don't believe I mentioned a 40 GB partition at any time. You wrote: "You might 1st repartition your drive and create e.g. 2 partitions." I don't know how to partition drives, not do I have special software for that. I have a lot of stuff in my C drive -- all good -- I don't want to lose anything. Additionally, due to economic crisis and personal emergencies I am very pressed for time and I would hate to have to take the time to be reinstalling tons of programs, as I believe would be necessitated by any repartitioning of the C drive. Also, my computer is running super fast and great, so I do not want to mess with it much, except for converting the C drive from FAT32 to NTFS. Note: the D drive is already an NTFS drive. I converted it in March of 2008 but I don't remember exactly I how I did it. I don't remember if I was as cautious to consider all that we are considering this conversion, and I don't believe I got the best results. I remember feeling that my newly converted D NTFS partition did not seem to react as fast as it did when it was a FAT32 partition. My C drive partition is 53.6 GB with 38.2 GB Free. It is one of the two partitions of a 120 GB 5400rpm HDD. The other partition is the D drive partition which has 54.1 GB of which 29.9 GB is free. I use Fix-It Utilities Professional 9 and it seems to do a very thorough job of computer maintenance -- registry cleaner, disk defragmentation, virus and spyware control, disk check, etc. Note: You did not include some of the other options and switches listed here: CONVERT <volume> /FS:NTFS [/V] [/X] [/CvtArea: <filename>] [/NoSecurity] let me know if it is okay to include them. They seem to be of some use: /V verbose to tell me what is going on, and /X I think to dismount the drive, and /NoSecurity so that it can be accessed by anybody (I think). Is command prompt case sensitive? May I use all lower case letters? Well, that was a lot of stuff to write at 1:30 AM, the end of a long, difficult day. I will leave this for you to ponder. Thanks, a million. Goodnight.
  20. javeous

    javeous Newcomer, in training Posts: 21

    Backup, delete, partition, install, go? What you're doing seems like overkill 1sage. Does it not? Is it just for the sake of learning? Maybe start learning on more of a macro level than on a micro one like you are now.

    Just use lowercase. I don't think the grammar police are out tonight.

    A resource for you.
    Click here.
  21. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hello, again, I had one more thing to do at my computer and I saw you had replied. I was referring to whether the "command prompt black window" is case sensitive. Whether I could use just lover case for the syntax of the conversion language. I don't know if, "Just use lowercase. I don't think the grammar police are out tonight." you meant the text I write here to you... I'm very tired, you know. Regarding, "Backup, delete, partition, install, go? What you're doing seems like overkill 1sage. Does it not? Is it just for the sake of learning? Maybe start learning on more of a macro level than on a micro one like you are now." That is just it, I don't want to get involved in heavy learning at this stage of my life. I am a failed day trader, struggling like crazy economically, and there is much more bad stuff in my life... I just wanted to convert my C drive to NTFS and to do it in a way that did not mess things up for me, because my computeris doing great at this time. Thanks, again.
  22. javeous

    javeous Newcomer, in training Posts: 21

    Sage,

    I didn't mean to criticize you directly. My apologies. I meant to criticize the issue.

    If I were you, I would push my important data to another source. I would then reformat the drive using your version of a windows xp installation disc, then let it install.

    What I meant by using a different learning process, was to just use a type of graphical user interface, not jumping into detailed instructions.

    I have quite a bit of experience, but am far from knowing everything, and if there is anything I can help you with. Please ask.

    But I would use the simple process mentioned above. Ask me if you would like me to help.

    Day trader huh? Your field is something I have no experience in. Good luck bud, let me know.
  23. LookinAround

    LookinAround TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 8,285   +155

    1sagestar8

    :) Quite frankly, given all your references to XP documentation and detail you were quoting, i thought you were striving to be a computer type person who wanted to be a "purist"in order to tweak out any marginal performance tweaks when converting FAT32 to NFTS.

    But
    1) (just for the record), note i also suggested it might be easiest to just reinstall XP but at the same time
    2) If that seems overkill / too much work (which it might be vs. a simple convert), frankly, i wouldn't be THAT concerned over the subtle nuances involved in your MFT when converting to NTFS 'cuz frankly there are sooooo many other Windows issues and subtleties involved, unless you're that "purist" striving to tweak every CPU and disk cycle possible, you'll find it more trouble then it's worth trying to make a filesystem conversion "perfect" rather simply just converting from FAT32 to NTFS and not worry about getting your MFT "just right".

    All that said i'll add
    1) Then don't worry about repartitioning your hard drive and moving stuff around
    2) And, at the same time, don't focus unduly on getting that single 4GB contiguous file space
    3) You can just follow my instructions before to first defrag, then fsutil, then contig to see if you CAN get a single contigous file before you even try running convert
    4) And if you can't get that perfect single contiguous file, don't lose any sleep over it
    5)Not to make you fret but you likely already have lots of non-contingous, non-perfect Windows settings (is just normal if you're not an experienced "geek") so isn't really that big a deal if your MFT ain't perfect either ;)

    So (btw) once you're done converting you should just as well (since it's easy) download and defrag other important stuff using PageDefrag tool from Sysinternals
  24. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hello javeous, I am sorry, the other night I mistakenly thought that your post was, yet, another from LookinAround, who had been helping me. Sorry I did not acknowledge you.

    In reply to what you expressed. No, my interest is not academic in nature, I simply need to know the EXACT syntax for creating a placeholder file for the MFT, including the size in bytes. And the EXACT syntax for converting a FAT 32 drive to an NTFS one. As to how complicated that is, it seems no more complicated than someone who knows, telling exactly what to input into the command prompt window. Regarding your, "Just use lowercase. I don't think the grammar police are out tonight." I really need to know if the command prompt window is case sensitive. The examples of the command syntax that they give in my books interchange lower and upper case letters and I wanted to know if I must copy the text with attention to case sensitivity.
  25. 1sagestar8

    1sagestar8 Newcomer, in training Topic Starter

    Hello, again, Javeous, when I wrote my last post to you, I had not seen your second post to me (#22). In any case, not sweat, Budd, thanks for the thought. Thanks for you sincere offer to help. Take care.
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