NTFS File System for USB Flash Drives

Recently I came across a situation where I wanted to copy a virtual hard disk (which is about 12GB in size) to my USB drive. Though there was enough free space on the disk I wasn't able to copy the file. Reason for this was maximum file size allowed in FAT file system is 4096MB.

So I thought of formatting my flash drive with NTFS file system and just searched for pros and cons.


  • Avoid file size restriction
  • NTFS allow file compression
  • Manage permissions for individual files and folders
  • Use windows XP built in file encryption


  • Additional data writes – NTFS logs disk transactions separately on the disk adding considerable amount of extra disk activity, which leads to wearing out your USB drive faster
  • Windows 98/ ME, and most Linux systems cannot read NTFS partitions
  • Must go through removal dialog, or else you have a good chance of losing data as you have to switch from the 'Optimize for quick removal' mode

Therefore it is up to you to choose between formatting flash drive with NTFS or not. As I read, if you have done your research and decided to format your flash drive with NTFS, here is how to do it.

  • Right Click My Computer-> Select Manage-> Open Device Manager
  • Select your USB Drive-> Right Click-> Select Properties-> Select Policies Tab -> Select Optimize for performance option-> Click OK

  • Open My Computer-> Right Click on your USB Drive-> Select Format-> Select File System as NTFS-> Start

A good article on "Format a USB drive with NTFS file system" can be found here.