I want to reformat a 16 GB SD card to NTFS so that I can use it to transfer large files (larger than 4 GB) from one computer to another easily, but my computer will only allow FAT variations.


How to format USB drive and memory stick with NTFS

Connect your USB device (i.e. card reader), open the Device Manager, expand Disk Drives. Right click on the USB drive and select Properties and open the Policies tab:

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The 'trick' is to change the settings from “Optimize for quick removal” to “Optimize for performance”. Disconnect and reconnect flash drive and now NTFS will be available in the Format dialog.

Or use the HP USB Disk Storage Format Tool

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  • 1
    hmm. presumably you can change it back to "optimize for quick removal" after formatting ... right? – quack quixote Jan 7 '10 at 2:45
  • but of course, you can revert the settings anytime. – Molly7244 Jan 7 '10 at 2:58
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    Does windows format an SD card with NTFS "correctly", i.e. using the right settings for good performance on SD media? As far as I recall, the filesystem proper should start at the 8MB mark, and there might be other issues. I guess if you use the existing partition this would be less of a problem than starting from scratch with running fdisk. – Sam Watkins Feb 18 '13 at 0:06

Use the CONVERT command line tool:

convert S: /FS:NTFS /X

Where S: is whatever the drive letter that is assigned to your drive. Using this command, you don't even have to reformat the drive!


Alternatively, you can use WinRAR to break a large file into smaller pieces, and then store that on the SD card. Right click on the file (you've got to have WinRAR installed first), select "Add to Archive", and in the lower left hand corner of the dialog that pops up there's a field that says "Split to Volumes".

Normally, the size of the volumes has to be given in bytes, but you can add "K" or "M" to designate kilobytes or megabytes, respectively. I think "G" will also work (for gigabytes), but I've never tried anything that big.

  • 6
    +1 ... hint: recommend 7-zip, it well get you more votes here than WinRAR :) – Molly7244 Jan 7 '10 at 3:10
  • This doesn't answer the question. Although it is another method of accomplishing the task, it's not the one requested. – Katerberg Jan 7 '10 at 3:19
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    well, the answer starts with the word 'alternatively' ... – Molly7244 Jan 7 '10 at 12:05

exFAT also allows files greater than 4 GB. Support for it is built into Windows Vista and Windows 7 and is a free download from Microsoft for XP SP2+.

exFAT (Extended File Allocation Table, AKA FAT64) is a proprietary file system suited especially for USB flash drives, introduced by Microsoft.

The exFAT file system driver incorporates advanced structures for future scalability. The exFAT file system uses 64 bits to describe file size. This allows for applications that depend on very large files. The exFAT file system also allows for clusters as large as 32 MB, effectively enabling very large storage devices. Specifically, exFAT adds the following features:

  • Support for volumes that are larger than 32 GB, the theoretical maximum volume size for FAT32 in Windows XP
    • The theoretical maximum volume size is 64 ZB.
    • The recommended maximum volume size is 512 TB.
  • Support for files that are larger than 4 GB, the theoretical maximum file size for FAT32 in Windows XP
    • The theoretical maximum file size is 64 ZB.
    • The recommended maximum file size is 512 TB.
  • 2
    This is not the best solution for arbitrary "computer to computer"; other Operating Systems will at least read NTFS; exFAT is probably a bit of a ways off. – Broam Jan 21 '10 at 0:10

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