Making NTFS partitions in Linux

At Computer Recycling we often end up backing up small amounts of data to a hard drive (to later be copied back to the drive we’re erasing with DBAN). To keep things simple we format the drives with NTFS, but we mostly use Linux in the shop, so we have to partition and format the drives in Linux.

Normally we use cfdisk for partitioning. For example: a hard drive on /dev/sdb would get partitioned by running

cfdisk /dev/sdb

We would then set the drive type to NTFS in cfdisk and write it back to the disk. This step just partitions the disk, next it needs to be formatted. In the past we’ve done this by running:

mkfs.ntfs -Q /dev/sdb1

This does a Quick NTFS format on the /dev/sdb1 (1st partition on device sdb). If you don’t include the -Q switch the format takes a very long time, especially on larger drives.

But… I noticed in Xubuntu 13.04 that mkfs.ntfs was not present. When I ran the command mkfs.ntfs Xubuntu said it wasn’t installed and prompted to install ntfs-3g. The problem is ntfs-3g WAS installed. It turns out that ntfs-3g appears to be in transition. The command that does work is:

mkntfs -Q /dev/sdb1

It may be because I’m used to doing things the older way, but the above command works if you have ntfs-3g installed.

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