Microsoft

Preventing Convert from converting your hard drive to NTFS

If you accidentally schedule Convert to run on a partition and then realize you don't want the partition to use NTFS, don't panic, John Sheesley has the answer.


As a Windows NT Administrator, you know that NTFS is an advanced file system for the hard drives on your server. NTFS has many advantages over FAT, including smaller cluster sizes, long filename support, increased performance, and stronger security. If you’ve previously formatted a hard drive with FAT on your NT server and you decide to convert it to NTFS to gain some of these benefits, Microsoft provides Convert.exe to convert HPFS or FAT partitions to NTFS.

When you run the Convert utility, Windows NT schedules the conversion to occur immediately after your server’s next reboot. But what if you accidentally schedule Convert to run on a partition and then suddenly realize you don’t want the partition to use NTFS? What do you do?

First, don’t panic. Fortunately, you can prevent Convert from running at the next reboot. Doing so will prevent the conversion from taking place. However, to do so, you must take a trip into the server’s registry. And you must do so before you reboot your server.

Danger! Danger!
The registry can be a place where angels fear to tread. Be very careful when you make changes to your server’s registry. If you make a mistake or accidentally change the wrong parameter, you may lose data or not be able to restart your server. Some registry mistakes may even force you to reinstall NT. Make sure you have a full system backup before making registry changes and proceed at your own risk.

To make changes to the system, you must run the Registry Editor. To do so, select Run from the Start menu. When the Run dialog box appears, type regedt32 in the Open text box and click OK. You’ll then see the Registry Editor window.

Next, select HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE from the Window menu. In the left pane of the HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE window, navigate down the tree to the \SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Control\Session Manager key. In the right pane, you should see the BootExecute entry.

If you’ve scheduled Convert to run at the next startup, you should notice that the BootExecute entry has a value of autoconv \DosDevices\x: /FS:NTFS, where x stands for the drive you want to convert. You must change this entry. Double-click BootExecute, and when the Multi-String Editor window appears, remove the autoconv line and enter autocheck autochk * in its place. Click OK to save the change.

Now you can close the Registry Editor. If you want, you can restart it to double-check that the entry value was changed properly. As long as the autocheck line is in place, you should be safe.

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