File systems FAT, FAT32, NTFS definitions and comparison




File Systems Exposed (Part 1)

By Mohammad Yousef | August 2004


What is a file system? You might've noticed it in your drives' properties. A file system is an operating system's overall structure in which files are named, stored, and organized. If you're a Windows XP user, you've got 3 choices for a file system: NTFS, FAT, and FAT32. But what's the difference between them? Read on as I give you a detailed review of the file systems and tell you (what I think is) your best choice.


Following are Microsoft's Windows Glossary definitions for each of the 3 file systems:

  1. File Allocation Table (FAT): A file system used by MS-DOS and other Windows-based operating systems to organize and manage files. The file allocation table (FAT) is a data structure that Windows creates when you format a volume by using the FAT or FAT32 file systems. Windows stores information about each file in the FAT so that it can retrieve the file later.

  2. FAT32: A derivative of the File Allocation Table (FAT) file system. FAT32 supports smaller cluster sizes and larger volumes than FAT, which results in more efficient space allocation on FAT32 volumes.

  3. NTFS: An advanced file system that provides performance, security, reliability, and advanced features that are not found in any version of FAT. For example, NTFS guarantees volume consistency by using standard transaction logging and recovery techniques. If a system fails, NTFS uses its log file and checkpoint information to restore the consistency of the file system. In Windows 2000 and Windows XP, NTFS also provides advanced features such as file and folder permissions, encryption, disk quotas, and compression.

As it might seem obvious from the definitions, NTFS is your best option. Wait for my sequel where I'll demonstrate more in-depth info that will assure you whether NTFS is apt for you.






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Copyright 2004, Mohammad Yousef Alfasfoos. All rights reserved.
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