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Reformatting or converting a partition to use NTFS

Updated: January 21, 2005

Applies To: Windows Server 2003, Windows Server 2003 R2, Windows Server 2003 with SP1, Windows Server 2003 with SP2

Reformatting or converting a partition to use NTFS

If you have a FAT or FAT32 partition on which you want to install a product in the Windows Server 2003 family, and you want to use NTFS instead, you have two choices:

  • You can convert the FAT or FAT32 partition to NTFS. This leaves files intact, although the partition may have somewhat more fragmentation and slower performance than a partition formatted with NTFS. However, it is still advantageous to use NTFS, regardless of whether the partition was formatted with NTFS or converted.

    If you install a product in the Windows Server 2003 family on a FAT or FAT32 partition, you are offered the option to convert the partition to NTFS. You can also convert a FAT or FAT32 partition after Setup by using Convert.exe. For more information about Convert.exe, see Convert.

  • You can reformat the partition with NTFS. This erases all files on the partition, but results in less fragmentation and better performance than with a converted partition.

Important

  • If you have an Itanium architecture-based computer and you see that it has a small FAT partition of 100 MB or more, do not delete or reformat this partition. The partition is required for the loading of the operating system. For more information, see Start Setup on an Itanium architecture-based computer.

If you format a partition during Setup, the file systems choices are listed as NTFS and FAT. The following table provides information about the relationship between partition size and file system choices during Setup.

 

State and size of partition Setup choices and responses (when formatting the partition)

Unformatted, less than 2 GB.

Setup offers NTFS or FAT. Setup uses the format chosen.

Unformatted, 2 GB or larger, up to a maximum of 32 GB.

Setup offers NTFS or FAT. If FAT is chosen, Setup uses FAT32.

Unformatted, larger than 32 GB.

Setup allows only NTFS.

Previously formatted with FAT32 and larger than 32 GB. (Partition created with Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows Millennium Edition.)

No formatting needed, even though an unformatted partition of this size, when formatted during or after Setup for a product in the Windows Server 2003 family, would have to use NTFS. In other words, previously-formatted FAT32 partitions of this size continue to be supported by the Windows Server 2003 family.

If you format a partition during Setup, you can choose between a quick format and a full format:

Quick format
Quick format creates the file system structure on the disk without verifying the integrity of every sector. Choose this method for any disk that has no bad sectors and no history of file-corruption problems that might be related to bad sectors.

Full format
A full format identifies and tracks bad sectors so that they are not used for storing data. Choose this method for any disk that has bad sectors or has a history of file-corruption problems that might be related to bad sectors.

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