FAT32 vs NTFS
FAT32 and NTFS are file systems created for keeping track of files in the hard disk. A file system is a set
of logical constructs that dictate how the space on a disk volume is to be utilized. NTFS is more robust
and effective simply because of its advanced features and functionalities. FAT, in general, comprises of
overly simplistic data structures, hence making operations more time consuming. The functionalities of
NTFS are far more over-powering since it makes use of advanced data structures to improve reliability,
disk space utilization and overall performance.
All attributes Differences Similarities
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Both built-in security and
recoverability are absent. File
compression is not possible.
There is built-in security and
recoverability. File compression is
one amongst several other
Size & Storage:
The Maximum volume size is
32GB for all OS and 2TB for some
OS. 4194304 is the maximum file
Maximum volume size is 2TB.
Nearly unlimited files can be
FAT12 (first version) followed by
FAT16 and then FAT32.
NT3.1, NT 3.5, NT3.51 and NT4,
NTFSV5.0, NTFSV5.1, NTFSV5.2
FAT is a widely used computer file
system architecture used not only
on computer systems but also on
most memory cards. FAT32 is the
most recent one and supersedes
NTFS is the file system that
WindowsNT and its later versions
including the recent Windows
7 uses for storing and retrieving
files on hard disk.
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File Allocation Table
New Technology File System
1 Origins of FAT and NTFS
2 Features of NTFS vs FAT
3 Comparison of Advantages and
4 Video explaining the differences
5 Related Articles
EDITOrigins of FAT and NTFS
FAT (File Allocation Table) was created by Bill Gates and Marc McDonald in the year 1977. It has
undergone many changes since then. The number "32" in FAT32 denotes the number of bits needed to
keep track of the files. FAT16 was popular until the arrival of 4GB hard disks. NTFS was born from HPFS
file system in collaboration of Microsoft and IBM. NTFS appeared initially for Windows NT platform.
Since then it has developed and appears in recent versions of Windows like Vista, XP. Microsoft
continues to hold on to NTFS patent.
EDITFeatures of NTFS vs FAT
FAT32 is a fluff-free and simple system that is documented and mainly keeps track of file locations. The
simplicity of FAT32 has made it the file system of choice for portable storage mediums like
in memory cards, mp3 players and flash players. NTFS file system is more complex and offers multiple
enhancements that increase security as well as performance. NTFS file system allows automatic file
compression prior to being written freeing up hard disk space and also has disk quotas which allows
system administrator to allocate disk space to users.
FAT32 is a derivative of the (FAT) File Allocation Table which supports drives with more than 2GB
storage. The largest possible file is 4GB minus 2 bytes. In comparison to its earlier versions, FAT32 uses
small clusters and hence uses space more effectively. It can relocate the root folder and use the backup
copy of the FAT instead of the default copy. NTFS is much more flexible than FAT32. NTFS does file-level
encryption, sparse file support, disk usage quotas, distributed link tracing, file compression, hierarchical
storage management etc.
EDITComparison of Advantages and Disadvantages
FAT32 can be converted to NTFS but it is not so easy to convert NTFS back to FAT. NTFS has great
security, file by file compression, quotas and file encryption. If there is more than one operating
system on a single computer, it is better to format some volumes as FAT32.
Using multiple operating systems in same computer would make FAT32 a better choice if you want both
OSs to read the drive. If there is only Windows OS, NTFS is perfectly fine. Thus in a Windows computer
system NTFS is a betteroption.