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I have 2 TB of data on an NTFS drive which I would like to convert to EXT4 filesystem. My OS runs on a (comparatively) small 60GB SSD. Is there any way to convert the filesystem, apart from backing up and reformatting?

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up vote 24 down vote accepted

Just for the record, there is a software (actually, a mini-distro) that does exactly the procedure arrange said in enzotib's answer:

Parted Magic

It looks like a direct conversion from NTFS to ext4, but internally the procedures are:

  1. Shrink the NTFS partition
  2. Create an ext4 partition in the empty space
  3. Move data from NTFS to ext4 until ext4 is full
  4. If NTFS is empty (all data was moved), go to step 8
  5. Shrink NTFS
  6. Enlarge ext4
  7. Repeat steps 3 to 6 until done
  8. Delete NTFS partition
  9. Move ext4 partition to NTFS' orignal place
  10. Trim ext4 partition to NTFS' original size

So the more occupied your NTFS partition is, the longer it will take. If it is less than 50%, it will convert in one pass, in a single shrink-copy-enlarge iteration.

Although Parted Magic conveniently automates all of this, it is still essentially the same procedures described by arrange, so it is very risky and very time consuming. Backup-format-restore is much safer and much faster.

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Thanks @arrange for the algorithm – MestreLion May 22 '12 at 10:06
And @enzotib for the original answer, obviously – MestreLion May 22 '12 at 10:07
FYI, PartedMagic does NOT have a tool to automate the conversion from NTFS to EXT4. This is comfirmed by a PartedMagic admin themselves on their forum. The only way to do this is manually as mentioned. > From PartedMagic forums: > > Patrick Verner: I think this is the post: > > > It's impossible to convert NTFS to EXT4. You have to do it like the > link above. As far as the "automate" comment, I have no idea what is > meant by that. Maybe he was taking about using GParted. – Dulanic Aug 1 '15 at 15:12

No, there is no way that I am aware of.

The only way, as you said, is to backup->format->restore.

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Or defragment->shrink->make a new ext4 partition->copy data ntfs→ext4->delete the ntfs partition->enlarge ntfs. Risky and not nice. – arrange Sep 26 '11 at 9:14
@arrange, you mean "enlarge ext4", right? and not "enlarge ntfs" in the last step of your instructions... – rigved Sep 26 '11 at 9:59
@rigved: yes, enlarge ext4, thanks, can't edit the original comment anymore... – arrange Sep 26 '11 at 10:05
ok the drive is full, so it looks like buying a new drive is the only option .. – wim Sep 27 '11 at 12:17

Actually there IS a way to do this almost directly.

You could easily convert NTFS to ext2 / ext3 with anyconvertfs from anyfs-tools

Then you could convert it to ext4 using tune2fs.

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I have been misled by this answer. The man page doesn't state it can convert to ntfs, and the tool is not maintained since 2010. I could not compile the 6 latters versions of anyfs-tools for ubuntu 12.04 environement. – Stephane Rolland May 9 '13 at 20:44
Actually question was about converting FROM ntfs, not to ntfs. And man page states that it could: anyconvertfs. Besides, I successfully converted partition with it on Gentoo. – PASAf Aug 24 '13 at 9:27

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