How to Format an NTFS Partition in Linux

Written by kevin walker
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The NTFS file system is the modern file system used to organise the files on a hard disk under modern Windows operating systems. It is a proprietary technology developed and controlled by Microsoft, so support in Linux (which usually uses the EXT file system) is experimental. However, you can format and work with NTFS partitions in Linux using the "NTFSProgs" package.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Install the NTFSProgs package from your Linux package manager. For example, in Ubuntu, this can be done by typing "sudo aptitude install ntfsprogs" into a terminal window (without the quotes). In Gentoo, you would type "sudo port install ntfsprogs" instead. If you are not sure how to run the package manager in your version of Linux, check your documentation.

  2. 2

    Type the following commands into your terminal to get a list of all the hard disc devices on your computer along with some information about them:

    ls /dev/sd /dev/hd

    Individual disks will be given a letter, and their partitions given a number. For example:

    sda sda1 sda2 sdb sdb1

    This represents two disks (a and b). The first disk has two partitions (1 and 2) and the second has only one partition (1). You will need to select the partition to be formatted from the list given. You can get information about the disk by typing "sudo fdisk -l /dev/sda" into the terminal window. Replace "sda" with the name of the disk you want information about. For example, you can use "sdb" or "hda" to get information about other disks.

  3. 3

    Format your selected partition by typing "sudo mkntfs /dev/sda1" into the terminal window. Replace the partition "sda1" with the disk you wish to format.

Tips and warnings

  • Disk formatting is a dangerous activity. Back up your data and ensure that you format the correct partition before typing the "mkntfs" command. After the command has started, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to recover from a mistake.
  • NTFS support in Linux is experimental and issues including data loss, are possible.
  • The partition must not be already mounted. You can unmount a partition using the "umount" or "unmount" command (depending on your version of Linux.)

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