Solutions for Only NTFS Volumes Can be Protected

Learn how to fix only NTFS volumes that can be protected error or directly use third-party backup software to create backup image.


by Yuka Updated on November 1, 2022

Share this: instagram reddit

Overview of NTFS file system

New Technology File System (NTFS) is a proprietary journaling file system developed by Microsoft and it replaces File Allocation Table (FAT) and High-Performance File System (HPFS) as the default file system.

It helps to store the file information, including file name, size, storage location, creation date, access date, metadata change, etc. And it also maintains memory, encrypts data, regulates access to files, and ensures data security. And it has made some improvements in the following: 

  • Support for a long file name, up to 255 characters, not case sensitive and compatible with special characters, excluding ?, ", /, \.
  • Store files as large as 16 exabytes and up to 8 petabytes volumes. An exabyte is 1000 times larger than 1 petabytes (1024 terabytes).
  • Compress or decompress file in a drive, directory or directory tree individually, up to 4KB cluster size.
  • Since server 2012 R2 or Windows 8 (both 32 and 64 bit), NTFS partition supports Bitlocker drive encryption with a trusted platform module(TPM).
  • Use sparse files as a way to store disk space. The default value of it is zero and you can convert it into "real blocks" with null bytes, so as to store large files, even when there is not enough space. 
  • Monitor or control disk space for individual users easily with the help of disk space quotas.

The Issue: only volumes formatted with NTFS can be protected

When you use the built-in backup and restore tool to backup system or other partitions, you may encounter the following error. And it appies to Windows Server 2003/2008/2012 (R2)/SBS 2003/2008/2011 or Windows 10/8.1/8/7/XP/Vista.

"One of the source volumes specified has an invalid format and cannot be protected using Windows Backup. Only volumes formatted with NTFS can be protected."



The cause and solution for volumes specified has an invalid format

Since NTFS is the default file system for all the Windows PCs and servers, the built-in backup and restore software can only backup partitions or volumes formatted with NTFS.

If there is one or more volumes formatted with FAT 32 or other file system, a file system often used in earlier versions of Windows and most USB flash drives, formatted system reserved partition or EFI partition, you may encounter this error.

To resolve this error, the only way is to convert FAT 32 to NTFS, you could use Disk Management or command prompt. Or you can use third-party backup software as an alternative. 

Way 1: Recreate a NTFS partition with Disk Management

If the partition that cannot be backed up does not have valuable data on it, you can delete it and recreate a NTFS partition with Disk Management. 

1. Type discmgmt.msc in the start menu and press Enter to open Disk Management. If it's a server computer, search computer management and select it, then click Disk Management.

2. In the Disk Management window, right-click the FAT32 partition and click Delete Volume.

3. Then, it will delete this partition and finally displays as Unallocated. Right-click the unallocated space and select New Simple Volume.

4. Follow the New Simple Volume Wizard and set NTFS as the file system in the following window. 

New Volume

5. Click Next and start the creation of NTFS volume. 

Way 2: Directly convert FAT32 to NTFS with command prompt 

If you do not want to delete the partition, you can directly convert the partition or volume to NTFS with commad prompt. 

1. Close all open programs running on the FAT 32 partition. 

2. Click the Start button, type cmd in the searching box, and press Enter.

3. At the command prompt window, type convert f: /fs:ntfs, and press Enter. Note f: is the drive letter of FAT32 partition.

Convert F

Use third-party backup software to create backup image

Except for only NTFS volumes can be protected error, you may encounter other problems while using Backup and Restore or Windows Server Backup, for example, the backup did not complete successfully. To prevent them all at once, you could consider using a reliable third-party backup software.

AOMEI Backupper Standard is a great option. It supports all the backup solutions, including system backup, disk backup, partition backup and file backup. And you can backup them in partition or disk with all file systems, including NTFS, FAT32, FAT16, EXT2, EXT3 and other file systems. Also, you can enjoy the following advantages:

It is able to run backup task automatically in daily, weekly, and monthly. The premium version still supports event trigger and USB plug in. The last one is recommended if you don't want to keep the USB drive always connected. 
It helps to save disk spce with multiple features, such as, incremental backup, compression, splitting, intelligent sector backup, etc. 
It is capatible of making bootable rescue media to boot computer when it fails.
Besides backup, you still can use it to clone system, disk partition, and sync files from one location to another. 

System Backup

If you want an easier way to backup system, disk, partition or files, please download the free version of AOMEI Backupper and have a try! For server users, try AOMEI Backupper Server

Download FreewareWin 11/10/8.1/8/7/XP
Secure Download


You can only convert FAT32 to NTFS with given methods to fix only NTFS volumes can be protected error or directly create a backup image with third-party backup software, AOMEI Backupper Standard for Windows PCs and AOMEI Backupper Server for server users. 

With them, you can backup system, disk, partition or files per your needs and make it automatically. And it helps to minimize disk space with different features, if you want to fix disk space issue completely, try premium feature - automatic backup cleanup to delete backup file regularly. Also, different backup helps if you want an easy recovery.

Yuka · Editor
Yuka, our dedicated editor at AOMEI Technology, is committed to bringing you valuable insights and guidance in data protection. Her mission is to empower everyone with her knowledge in computer backup and recovery, disk cloning, file synchronization, and more. Yuka's goal is to do her best to make complex tech tasks simple and ensure that your digital world remains safe and secure.