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[Discussion] All You Need To Know About Different File Systems For Storage Drives!

2018-06-18 22:27:30
3128 19

Hi, Mi Fans!

Friends, when we talk about the Windows OS, we realize that the operating system gets installed on a partition formatted with the NTFS file system. For removable flash drives and other forms of USB interface-based storage, we use FAT32. Additionally, the removable flash drives and memory cards can also be formatted with the exFAT file system, which is a derivative of the old FAT32 filesystem.

So, FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT are the three file systems we commonly use for Windows and storage media running on Android and various other devices. But, have you ever thought about the differences between FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT? Let's know that through this thread. Before that let's get to some basic and know about file systems.

What Is A File System?

  • A file system is basically a set of rules used to decide how data is stored and fetched in a storage device, be it a hard drive, flash drive, or something else. Like the conventional way we used to store data in our offices in different files, the same method is deployed in computing.
  • A defined set of data called a ‘File’ is stored at a specified location in a storage device. If the file system is kicked out of the computing world, all we will be left with is a large chunk of unrecognizable data in our storage media.
  • There are many types of files systems available for different storage options like the Disk File System, Flash File System, Tape File System, and so on. But for now, I’ll be restricting myself with the three Disk File Systems FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT in this thread.
  • NTFS is the most modern file system. Windows uses NTFS for its system drive and, by default, for most non-removable drives. FAT32 is an older file system that’s not as efficient as NTFS and doesn’t support as big a feature set, but does offer greater compatibility with other operating systems.
  • exFAT is a modern replacement for FAT32—and more devices and operating systems support it than NTFS—but it’s not nearly as widespread as FAT32.

NT File System(NTFS):

  • NTFS is the modern file system Windows likes to use by default. When you install Windows, it formats your system drive with the NTFS file system. NTFS has file size and partition size limits that are so theoretically huge you won’t run up against them.
  • NTFS is packed with modern features not available to FAT32 and exFAT. NTFS supports file permissions for security, a change journal that can help quickly recover errors if your computer crashes, shadow copies for backups, encryption, disk quota limits, hard links, and various other features. Many of these are crucial for an operating system drive—especially file permissions.
  • Your Windows system partition must be NTFS. If you have a secondary drive alongside Windows and you plan on installing programs to it, you should probably go ahead and make it NTFS, too. And, if you have any drives where compatibility isn’t really an issue—because you know you’ll just be using them on Windows systems—go ahead and choose NTFS.

Compatibility: Works with all versions of Windows, but read-only with Mac by default, and may be read-only by default with some Linux distributions. Other devices—with the exception of Microsoft’s Xbox One—probably won’t support NTFS.
Limits: No realistic file-size or partition size limits.
Ideal Use: Use it for your Windows system drive and other internal drives that will just be used with Windows.

File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32):

  • FAT32 is the oldest of the three file systems available to Windows. It was introduced all the way back in Windows 95 to replace the older FAT16 file system used in MS-DOS and Windows 3.
  • The big advantages is that because it’s so old, FAT32 is the de-facto standard. Flash drives you to purchase will often come formatted with FAT32 for maximum compatibility across not just modern computers, but other devices like game consoles and anything with a USB port.
  • Limitations come with that age, however. Individual files on a FAT32 drive can’t be over 4 GB in size—that’s the maximum. A FAT32 partition must also be less than 8 TB, which admittedly is less of a limitation unless you’re using super-high-capacity drives.
  • While FAT32 is okay for USB flash drives and other external media—especially if you know you’ll be using them on anything other than Windows PCs—you won’t want to FAT32 for an internal drive. It lacks the permissions and other security features built into the more modern NTFS file system. Also, modern versions of Windows can no longer be installed to a drive formatted with FAT32; they must be installed to drives formatted with NTFS.

Compatibility: Works with all versions of Windows, Mac, Linux, game consoles, and practically anything with a USB port.
Limits: 4 GB maximum file size, 8 TB maximum partition size.
Ideal Use: Use it on removable drives where you need maximum compatibility with the widest range of devices, assuming you don’t have any files 4 GB or larger in size.

Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT):

  • The exFAT file system was introduced in 2006 and was added to older versions of Windows with updates to Windows XP and Windows Vista. exFAT is optimized for flash drives—designed to be a lightweight file system like FAT32, but without the extra features and overhead of NTFS and without the limitations of FAT32.
  • Like NTFS, exFAT has very large limits on file and partition sizes., allowing you to store files much larger than the 4 GB allowed by FAT32.
  • While exFAT doesn’t quite match FAT32’s compatibility, it is more widely-compatible than NTFS. While Mac OS X includes only read-only support for NTFS, Macs offer full read-write support for exFAT. exFAT drives can be accessed on Linux by installing the appropriate software. Devices can be a bit of a mixed bag. The PlayStation 4 supports exFAT; the PlayStation 3 does not. The Xbox One supports it, but the Xbox 360 does not.

Compatibility: Works with all versions of Windows and modern versions of Mac OS X, but requires additional software on Linux. More devices support exFAT than support NTFS, but some—particularly older ones—may only support FAT32.
Limits: No realistic file-size or partition-size limits.
Ideal Use: Use it when you need bigger file size and partition limits than FAT32 offers and when you need more compatibility than NTFS offers. Assuming that every device you want to use the drive with supports exFAT, you should format your device with exFAT instead of FAT32.


So, based on functionality, we can conclude that NTFS is ideal for internal drives, while exFAT is generally ideal for flash drives. However, you may sometimes need to format an external drive with FAT32 if exFAT isn’t supported on a device you need to use it with.

Which file system format you prefer. Which of these is the best according to you? Let me know in the comments below. See you soon with one more tech thread. Till then, take care!


Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4, Google Images


Number of participants 1 Experience +10 Pack Reason

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2018-06-18 22:27:30
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Master Bunny

Vizard | from Redmi Note 5 Pro


NTFS is best , but only on windows , that's the other story.
2018-06-18 22:30:11

Master Bunny

sandy280285 | from Redmi Note 5 Pro


thanks for sharing the information
2018-06-18 22:50:24

Master Bunny

Simmi Kansal | from Redmi Note 5 Pro


thanks nice information
2018-06-19 00:20:14

Pro Bunny

Naresh Rathod Keroor | from Redmi 4


nice information about file system
2018-06-19 02:40:33

Grandmaster Bunny

Solver13 | from Redmi Note 4


Interesting Thread and well Explained as well. Thanks For Sharing:-)
2018-06-19 03:29:39

Master Bunny

Purna Pradhan | from MI MAX


thanks for sharing
2018-06-19 04:23:24

Advanced Bunny

1721501891 | from Redmi Note 4


really helpful...thanks bro
2018-06-19 04:27:21

Grandmaster Bunny

V. Saran | from Mi A1


Nice info
2018-06-19 04:31:36
V. Saran

Pro Bunny

AshRock. | from Mi A1


Thanks for sharing..
2018-06-19 04:46:09

Pro Bunny

1579704752 | from Mi 4i


nice information.. good explanation
2018-06-19 04:50:27
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