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I have a 500GB external hard disk which I use mostly for storing movies/music and some backup. Since I have some rather large files I use NTFS on it, but don't need the security/compression/encryption features. I recently read about exFAT and as far as I understand it solves my shortcomings of FAT32, so decided to give exFAT a try.

Can anyone suggest an utility to convert my existing NTFS volume to exFAT (or vice versa) without losing contents?

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Even with a utility you are still taking a gamble with your data. I can't stress enough that you should back up before migrating file systems. I have only attempted this once and it did not go well. – Not Kyle stop stalking me Feb 2 '11 at 19:11
@Kyle what can I say, risk is my middle name :) – user4072 Feb 2 '11 at 19:15
@Can lol :D good luck! – Not Kyle stop stalking me Feb 2 '11 at 19:19
NTFS > FAT32 >exFAT – Moab Feb 2 '11 at 20:15
@Moab - is that even possible? Also, if he's got >4GB files it won't work. – user3463 Feb 3 '11 at 0:31

To answer your question: no, there is no utility.*

I'd stick with NTFS. It's been around longer than exFAT, it is stable, and no one is forcing you to use the features like compression, security and encryption. It's also supported on a lot more platforms than exFAT, including Windows itself (notwithstanding the patches you can install).

exFAT is designed primarily for removable drives like USB thumb drives, so I'd use it for that, but not for a hard drive.

*(As @Moab points out in the comments, there are ways to do this using two separate conversions, from NTFS to FAT32, and then FAT32 to exFAT, but you'd be held ransom to FAT32's limitations during the conversion, which includes a maximum of 4GB on file sizes.)

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The conversion between fat and ntfs used to be one way. Has that changed in recent version of windows? – psusi Feb 3 '11 at 3:47
No there is no method in Windows to do this. It would be a third-party product. – user3463 Feb 3 '11 at 4:10
"It's also supported on a lot more platforms than exFAT, including Windows itself (notwithstanding the patches you can install)." The lack of proper Mac support is a real practical problem of using NTFS. – maayank Apr 27 '12 at 14:13
Note my real world experiences of ExFAT on Windows 7 and Mac Lion 10.7.4 have me going back to NTFS. ExFAT works but I randomly get corruption on Mac, likely due to it being a laptop and if I ever disconnect w/o first waking it up and unmounting I get corruption and lost files 50% of time. Not sure if that is the same on Windows, but now I'm switching to NTFS and just using Mac over SMB to access the drive rather then direct USB. I'm having to copy files off of ExFAT, re-format, then copy back... – Bret Fisher May 18 '12 at 20:10
@FangJing: No, I believe any journaled filesystem should never suffer corruption from this, bugs notwithstanding. Current versions of NTFS, HFS+ and many *nix filesystems have journaling but no FAT filesystem has it. – hippietrail May 19 at 2:10
  1. Format the HDD. (CAUTION : Before formatting the HDD, do not forget to copy the entire data/files/photographs/videos etc to some safe place because formatting will erase all these from the HDD). For formatting, connect the HDD to your computer/laptop. Click ‘My Computer’. Right Click on the icon of this HDD (Expansion drive). A window will open up wherein “format” is one of the options. Click on ‘format’.
  2. Under the option “File System”, change the setting from ‘NTFS’ to ‘exFAT’ and click ‘Start’.fa
  3. The HDD gets formatted instantly and is now in ‘exFAT’ format.
  4. Paste back all your data/files/photographs/videos etc to your HDD.
  5. Now attach this HDD (which is now in ‘exFAT’ format) to your Sony Bravia LED.
  6. Enjoy the photographs/videos etc which are stored on your HDD
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If you couldn't use of the above normal method, you can use of Parted.Magic tool for that goal. Download it's .iso file (it just need a little googling!) and burn it to a CD/DVD/USB stick then boot your computer from it. Then attach your HDD into computer and double click on partition Editor item (see this) Then you can see this window. Right click on the rectangle which is showing the size of your HDD, then convert it to whatever you like. PS. You should observe the considerations said about loosing data in above answer. Good luck.

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