Difference Between NTFS, exFAT And FAT32 File System

Windows is the most used operating system on computers and Laptops. Its desktop version is competent of working with four types of file system:
NTFS, FAT, FAT32 & exFAT.

File system

while formatting an internal/External drive, You must have seen Windows asks you to choose any of these three file systems: NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT.
What are these file systems? What is the difference between all these systems? Which one is suitable for in which condition? We will see that in a moment, first, let’s know a little bit about the file system.
It is a system of arranging data in a computer drive. It tells about data storage on the drive and types of information attributed to files including file names, permissions, and other characteristics.

The Windows supports three file systems: NTFS, FAT32, & exFAT.
NTFS is the latest file system which is currently accepted by Windows for its system drive.
Being too old, FAT32 is not as prominent as the NTFS file system. It fails to offer many useful features. But, It does provide greater adaptability with operating systems like Linux, Android or Mac.
exFAT is a substitution for FAT32. More devices and OS support it as compare to NTFS system—but FAT32 is far more widespread than exFAT.

The difference between FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT File System:

FAT32 File system:

FAT32 is a like an ex-soldier in the world of computing and has withstood generations of computers and operating systems for all purposes.
As it is an old and insufficient file system, it is of no use in production nowadays. However, it has the significant advantage of being compatible with any operating system. It does not matter if you use Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, it is almost impossible that a device is not able to read and write on this file system.
FAT32 system has certain reservations. It can not store files more than 4 GB and does not allow to create partitions of more than 8 TB. If you wish to pass something carrying a lot of files and levels of sub folders, such as CMS (course management system) Moodle, it is advisable to compress already to dodge problems.
It also lacks some security features that Modern systems like NTFS have.
This file system works at a satisfactory speed and along with its excellent compatibility with the broad range of operating systems makes it ideal for use in pen drives, especially if they have less than 16 GB of storage.
Due to their excellent compatibility, by default FAT32 system is used to format most of the pen drives.

File system

NTFS File Systems:

NTFS is the newest file system used by default in latest Windows hard drives and SSDs. Full form of the NTFS File system is New Technology File System.
It included a lot of improvements as compared to FAT, including:

  • Journaling, to guarantee the integrity of the file system;
  • No file size limitations;
  • Aid for file compression and large file names;
  • File access control for server administrators;
  • Snapshots, encryption, quotas of disk space by users, hard links and many other things.

NTFS is a smart file system that responds correctly to the needs of users of all kinds. Also, it does not offer the boundaries of FAT32 when it comes to storing, supporting much larger partitions and storing huge files.
However, it has problems of compatibility with some operating systems, in particular with the OS X (Mac computers). If you insert an NTFS-formatted drive into a Mac system, copying of the contents is possible, but you can not modify or write the contents without third party software.
Windows and its variants offer full support for NTFS, so out there there are no problems.
NTFS is ideal for use on external hard drives, thanks to the fact that it supports partitions and the storage of large files. However, it can profess problems when there is a Mac and even some other Linux distribution, although all the most popular ones can Read and write NTFS without problems.

exFAT File System:

Microsoft brought it in 2006 and included in Windows XP and Vista. As its name shows, it is related to the FAT file system, and it is an evolution of the FAT system, that tries to eliminate some restrictions that presented by FAT32. But it has certain limitations as compared to the NTFS system.

The main advantage of exFAT compared to FAT32 is that it does not have the storage constraints. It can create larger partitions and provide the opportunity to store files of more than 4GB, with the outstanding speed of reading and write.

Like FAT32, exFAT is ideal for use in pen drives and external drives.
Although, it is always good to learn that FAT32 extends more and better compatibility with a broader range of systems.

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