11/24/2007

Which file system is better ? NTFS vs FAT : Know about file systems in Windows XP

Yesterday one of my users Yesterday one of my readers , Nitin sent me the following query .

"Hi , Everytime I install the windows , after a while it asks me to choose between some NTFS file system and FAT file system .Which one do you think is better and why ? "

Nitin , since you being installing Windows XP , NTFS is the better choice. It is more powerful and offers security advantages which can not be found in the other file systems like FAT.For information Ill tell you the differences between different different file systems available in windows XP i.e FAT16 , FAT32 ( FAT stands for File Allocation Table ) and NTFS , short for NT File System.


About FAT16 :

The FAT16 file system was introduced way back with in 1981 along with MS-DOS, and it's a bit primitive . It was designed originally to handle files on smaller disks like floppy drive, and has had minor modifications over the years to make it handle hard disks, and even file names longer than the original limitation of 8.3 characters, but it's still the lowest common denominator. The biggest advantage of FAT16 is that it is compatible across a wide variety of operating systems, including Windows 95/98/Me, OS/2, Linux, and some versions of UNIX. The biggest problem of FAT16 is that it has a fixed maximum number of clusters per partition, so as hard disks get bigger and bigger, the size of each cluster has to get larger. In a 2–GB partition, each cluster is 32 kilobytes, meaning that even the smallest file on the partition will take up 32 KB of space. FAT16 also doesn't support compression, encryption, or advanced security using access control lists.

About FAT32 :

The FAT32 file system, originally introduced in Windows 95 Service Pack 2, is really just an extension of the original FAT16 file system that provides for a much larger number of clusters per partition. As such, it greatly improves the overall disk utilization when compared to a FAT16 file system. However, FAT32 shares all of the other limitations of FAT16, and adds an important additional limitation—many operating systems that can recognize FAT16 will not work with FAT32—most notably Windows NT, but also Linux and UNIX as well. Now this isn't a problem if you're running FAT32 on a Windows XP computer and sharing your drive out to other computers on your network—they don't need to know (and generally don't really care) what your underlying file system is.

The NTFS advantage :

The NTFS file system, introduced with first version of Windows NT, is a completely different file system from FAT. It provides for greatly increased security, file–by–file compression , quotas , and even encryption. It is the default file system for new installations of Windows XP, and if you're doing an upgrade from a previous version of Windows, you'll be asked if you want to convert your existing file systems to NTFS. Don't worry. If you've already upgraded to Windows XP and didn't do the conversion then, it's not a problem. You can convert FAT16 or FAT32 volumes to NTFS at any point. Just remember that you can't easily go back to FAT or FAT32 (without reformatting the drive or partition), which I think no one will want to.The NTFS file system is generally not compatible with other operating systems installed on the same computer, nor is it available when you've booted a computer from a floppy disk.

When to Use FAT or FAT32 ?

If you're running more than one operating system on a single computer, you will definitely need to format some of your volumes as FAT. Any programs or data that need to be accessed by more than one operating system on that computer should be stored on a FAT16 or possibly FAT32 volume. But keep in mind that you have no security for data on a FAT16 or FAT32 volume—any one with access to the computer can read, change, or even delete any file that is stored on a FAT16 or FAT32 partition. In many cases, this is even possible over a network. So do not store sensitive files on drives or partitions formatted with FAT file systems.

If you are using FAT and want to convert to NTFS ,Follow this guide .
Thanks to free PC tech .

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