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How to change the file system of a drive on Windows 10

A File System on a drive decides how data is stored and read from a drive. Think of it as a method for ordering information. If you were to go to a library, the books there will likely be sorted using the Dewey Decimal System. A file system is somewhat similar to this concept. There aren’t a whole lot of file systems but there are enough of them for users to have to stop and think which one they want to use. If you have a drive that’s on a certain file system, and you need to change it to another, you can easily do so on Windows 10.

Change file system of drive

In order to change the file system of a drive on Windows 10, you have two different built-in methods that you can use however, be warned. When you change the file system of a drive, it first erases everything on it. Make sure you back up data before you proceed. You should also know that you cannot change the file system of drive that you’ve booted form e.g., if you’re running Windows 10 from the C drive, you won’t be able to change its file system.

Change file system of drive – Drive format

Connect the drive that you want to format to your Windows 10 PC. Open File Explorer and go to This PC. Right-click the drive and select ‘Format’ from the context menu.

A new window will open with a dropdown for ‘File System’. Open it, and select one of the supported file systems that Windows 10 can convert to. If you want, you can uncheck the ‘Quick Format’ option. Click Start and the drive’s file system will be changed. The process will take some time to complete depending on the size of the drive, and whether or not you choose to disable Quick Format.

Change file system of drive – Disk Management

Connect your drive to your PC. Open Windows Search and enter Disk Management. Select the ‘Create and format hard disk partitions’ result.

In the Disk Management app, right-click the drive that you want to change the file system for. From the context menu, select ‘Format’.

In the window that opens, open the File System dropdown and select which file system you want to use for the drive. Click OK, change other settings/preferences for the drive if you need to, and then allow the format and conversion to complete.

On Windows 10, you can convert to the NTFS, exFAT, and FAT32 though the options may differ based on the type of drive that you’re looking to change the file system of. There are other file system besides these three such as Apple’s own proprietary Apple File System. You will need a Mac to convert a drive to this file system, or a paid app.

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