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I understand that you can convert a FAT32 drive to NTFS without formatting or backing up the data and later restoring - is the same thing possible in the other direction?

I want to convert my NTFS portable hard drive to FAT32 so that my PS3 will recognise it.

If it's not possible from within Windows, are there any free programs which will allow me to do it?

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    It is of course impossible to do this without losing some data: the permissions, for example. (Unless, of course, you write them off to a file.) Also, the files might not even fit on the drive in a FAT format...
    – SamB
    Jan 19 '11 at 17:40
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The Live CD of GParted will do what you want.

http://gparted.sourceforge.net/livecd.php

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  • If I had a *nix install this might be quite useful
    – Dexter
    Mar 2 '10 at 13:52
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    @Dexter You don't need a *nix install. Download an ISO for any flavor Live CD (I use Ubuntu), burn to a CD, and use that. You can run GParted right off the CD without affecting your system (unless you pick the wrong drive, of course)
    – Tom A
    Mar 2 '10 at 22:54
  • @Joseph - that's a fair point and a good suggestion.. I'll give it a shot
    – Dexter
    Mar 6 '10 at 17:38
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    GParted, at least as of 0.12.1 in December 2012, will not non-destructively convert NTFS to FAT32. What you could do with it, assuming you had at least 50% of your disk space free, is create a FAT32 partition on the disk alongside the NTFS one, copy the files from the NTFS partition to the FAT32 one, and then delete the NTFS partition and grow the FAT32 one into the remaining space. Dec 29 '12 at 19:37
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Partition Magic used to be great for this but is no longer available.

I am not aware of any free or built in tool that allows you to do this without first formatting the drive - which, I personally think is the quickest method.

If you can, backup all your data, format the drive as FAT32 then move it back.

Only attempt this on data only drives, not system drives - I am assuming by the fact you want to use it in a PS3, it is just a non system disk.

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I alway used Acronis disk manager quite happily. But converting NTFS to FAT seems a little risky, as there are multiple restrictions (after all there's a reason NTFS is primarily used for larger drives and FAT remains for use for smaller flash drives etc)

  • There's the file size limit of around 4GB
  • The file-per-folder limit to many subfolders per folder or files per folder will cause in writing errors)
  • The name-length restriction (remember that pretty long-named filename in that pretty long-named directory? that probably won't be accessible)
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The problems you may run into:

FAT32 only supports up to 4Gig files. If you have files larger than that, you can't do this.

FAT32 max drive size support differs based on your Windows OS.

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