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USB drives are very common these days. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and almost everyone uses one. USB drives are mostly formatted with the FAT or FAT32 filesystem. This is because traditionally USB drives had smaller capacity and by using NTFS on them we had more to loose than gain because of the greater overhead accompanying the use of NTFS. As the drives grew larger in size this has changed.

The single biggest reason that is alone enough to persuade you to use NTFS on USB drive is if you want to handle large files. If you have ever transferred a large ISO file you now what I mean. FAT does not support files larger than 4GB. In addition there are other benefits of using NTFS like encryption, per file and folder permissions, compression etc.

That said there are certain disadvantages of using NTFS as well, for one there are frequent writes to the disk and thus performance degrades a little but generally wouldn’t be noticeable for our purposes.

While Windows Vista and Windows 7 allow you to format a drive with NTFS out of the box, Windows XP only allows you to format with FAT and FAT32. However you can format with NTFS in Windows XP if you want to.

Just follow the steps below:

  • Open Device manager (Right Click on My Computer Icon and click Manage, then look for device manager and open it.)
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  • Expand the entry that reads Disk Drives. Your USB drive must be listed under it.
  • Select the entry for your USB drive, right click and choose properties.
  • Go to the policies tab in the dialog box that opens. Choose “Optimize for Performance”. This would allow you to format your drive with NTFS.
  • Now you when you plug in your USB drive and right click to format you will see an option to format it with NTFS.

    In conclusion its best if you use NTFS for large capacity USB drives or that you weigh out the pros and cons and decide according to your needs!

    1. Swapnil
      March 10, 2015 at 6:27 pm

      That means I can Store A 10 GB game on a 8 gb pen drive....?

      • CommonSense
        May 9, 2016 at 3:14 pm

        No, this is only for speeding up your device, it does not make it hold any more data, an 8gb pen drive will only hold a max of 8gb or less after formatting, if you need to store a 10gb game I suggest getting a bigger drive perhaps a 16gb one will suit your needs. #commonsense

    2. Vitaliy Daniliuk
      December 31, 2009 at 12:24 am

      bad idea to format a RAM device... you're killing it's lifespan...

    3. nikhil
      May 10, 2009 at 2:58 am

      hey can i store 4 gb film in 2gb pendrive using ntfs system?

      • Gary
        September 19, 2009 at 10:00 pm

        Of course not. that is for flash drives more than 4GB only

    4. zlajonja
      May 7, 2009 at 9:06 am

      A for that last about safely removing. I'd always advise people to safely remove their USB's cause otherwise they can fry their motherboards. I've heard it as an urban myth before, but when it happened to a friend of mine in front of me (thanks to the skies it wasn't on mine comp)... I've started doing that. :)

      Hope this tip helps somebody in the future to save his computer from certain death.. :D

    5. Deepak T
      May 6, 2009 at 1:35 pm

      Thank you for the tip..

    6. mohd
      May 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

      I've read a similar post somewhere, stating that you have to safely remove hardware if it is formatted in ntfs or you will corrupt your data.

    7. aaww
      May 6, 2009 at 8:19 am

      Heyy cant ext4 work in Windows xp??

    8. tu
      May 5, 2009 at 10:05 pm

      Would an NTFS formatted USB be preferable for ReadyBoost, or is there no difference?

    9. csegurag
      May 5, 2009 at 9:59 pm

      What about exFat?

    10. ry
      May 5, 2009 at 8:21 pm

      as micheal said, this tip is only useful if you don't use the usb drive for both windows and mac.

      many kids at school are boggled when they bring their flash/hard drive into the mac labs and it wont mount.

    11. Michael
      May 5, 2009 at 3:13 pm

      This is perhaps the fourth time in the last month or so that MakeUseOf has given me a quick tip or solution to something I had been pondering. You guys are fast becoming one of my favourite sites.

      In answer to Richard above: NTFS is a better solution unless you're only dealing with files under 4GB in size and want to keep the option of connecting your external hard drive to both a PC and a Mac, then FAT32 is preferable.

    12. VirginTech
      May 5, 2009 at 3:02 pm

      Nice tip buddy!

    13. Yonathan
      May 5, 2009 at 2:59 pm

      May I give you a HUGE tip, Varun Kashyap?
      Use ClearType.

      Right click on the desktop and:
      Properties>>Appearance>>Effects...>>Use the following method to smooth edges of screen fonts:
      ClearType.

      Or maybe you're one of those who can't stand it's sleek look (I have such a friend!)?

      • Varun Kashyap
        May 5, 2009 at 3:08 pm

        Thanks for the HUGE tip, feeling pretty heavy already, don't know how to handle such incessant flow of information from your side ;)

        oh and BTW if u are referring to the Screen shots, those were taken in a newly created VM to get the point across, so I had other important things in my mind than thinking about enabling clear type and then possibly using the MS tool to configure it for optimal view quality on an LCD as opposed to a CRT and/or vice versa. As long as they serve the purpose and you are able to make out radio buttons from the big red close button - I am fine without the sleek font look.

        As for the typography 101 session, perhaps some other day!

      • Blah
        May 7, 2009 at 11:52 am

        yeah that a very good tip.. my eyes hurt while viewing those screenshot eh..

    14. Richard
      May 5, 2009 at 1:51 pm

      So if I want to format an external hard drive it should use NTFS rather than FAT32?

      • Chris
        May 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm

        Yes, if your using files larger then 4 GB. Like DVD images and the like. I made my 8 Gig flash drive NTFS for that reason.

        • Richard
          May 6, 2009 at 1:56 pm

          Nice one.

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