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Last response: in Storage

Do you use NTFS or FAT32?

Total: 43 votes

  • NTFS
  • 100 %
  • FAT32
  • 0 %
December 9, 2006 1:24:35 PM

Also, what are the differences, and which is better?

More about : ntfs fat32

December 9, 2006 1:38:57 PM

This is ideal for Googling!
Related resources
December 9, 2006 1:55:24 PM

This is ideal for Googling!

ditto. This is why I use NTFS.

Security and Access Control: A major weakness of the FAT file system is that it includes no built-in facilities for controlling access to folders or files on a hard disk. Without this control, it is nearly impossible to implement applications and networks that require security and the ability to manage who can read or write various data.
December 9, 2006 2:00:31 PM

Also, what are the differences, and which is better?

I can't seem to work up the energy to write a long explanation about this.
The short answer - just use NTFS.
Unless of course you have only 40GB harddisks...
But NTFS is much more secure and functional even if it does give up ~5% of your space for 'overhead', so you should probably still use it anyway.
FAT32 is less efficient storage (see: cluster size) when dealing with today's large harddisk volumes,
December 9, 2006 2:08:44 PM

NTFS is more secure

Use FAT32 when you want to use Win95 or 98 only.
a b G Storage
December 9, 2006 4:58:27 PM

Depends on what I need the drive for. OS/Program drives I use NTFS. But for pure data storage, I switch to FAT. The reason is that I have found more data recovery tools for FAT then I have for NTFS. If my data drive tanks, I can run it by my data recovery programs and get the info off. (I hope...)
December 9, 2006 5:07:09 PM

Building on my post above, as no-one yet has said

For gaming I recommend NTFS with 8 or 16 KB clusters over FAT32 though, despite this article on

NTFS with 8 KB clusters disables compression and encryption on NTFS, it also halves the size of the MFT (vs 4 KB default, or makes MFT 1/16th the size vs FAT16/FAT32 to NTFS conversions using the pre Service Pack 1 - or was it SP2 ? - CONVERT tool).

I use NTFS with 4 KB for OS, and NTFS 8 KB for most other large partitions (depending on requirements, etc).

For storing heaps (Say near or over 1 TB) of data I'd recommend another PC running Linux (Kernel v2.6.x.x) with ReiserFS: ; with a Gigabit or Dual-Gigabit LAN connection.

Fast enough for you ?
December 9, 2006 5:58:06 PM

ONLY use FAT32 for handheld devices, like MP3 players that will not work with NTFS. Others might need some special Win98 compatability
December 9, 2006 11:22:31 PM

As best as I can remember, this is a pretty full list of differences between FAT32 and NTFS:

[*:51fbd69536]The FAT32 maximum file size is 4GB. NTFS has no maximum file size (files can be as large as the volume they're on). This is the most significant difference in my mind. This limit renders FAT32 useless for things like DVD ripping or video editing (20 minutes of DV video exceeds 4GB).
[*:51fbd69536]NTFS is a journaling file system. This means that all changes to the disk are logged in the journal, which functions like a transaction log, similar to a database. If a power failure or other hardware problem occurs during a write to the disk, NTFS can recover the disk to a known valid state with no file corruption by rolling back changes using the journal. This is why NTFS doesn't need to run scandisk/checkdisk all the time when a machine crashes.
[*:51fbd69536]NTFS supports many more file attributes than FAT32, including a more accurate set of created/modified/accessed times.
[*:51fbd69536]NTFS supports user and group file permissions.
[*:51fbd69536]NTFS places the MFT (Master File Table) in the middle of the disk for quick access.
[*:51fbd69536]NTFS can store small files directly in the MFT, avoiding using a cluster for small files.
[*:51fbd69536]Contrary to popular belief, NTFS does NOT suffer any performance penalty compared to FAT32 when the default 4K cluster size is used for the NTFS volume.
[*:51fbd69536]For larger hard drives (> 128 GiB), NTFS still uses 4K clusters, while FAT32 has increased to 32K clusters at that point. The slack waste on large hard drives can get very high with FAT32.
[*:51fbd69536]Contrary to popular belief, there are now just as many data recovery tools for NTFS as ther are for FAT32. In fact, sometimes recovery of data from an NTFS volume is simpler and more reliable because of the journal and because NTFS stores everything (including the MFT itself) as just another file, reducing the existence of "special" structures on the disk.

Having said that, you can see that for normal hard drives NTFS is the clear choice. However, there are a few places where NTFS should not be used:

[*:51fbd69536]Extremely slow media, like floppies. The overhead of writes to the transaction log slows the transfer rate even more than it already is.
[*:51fbd69536]Small space media, like floppies. The MFT uses a higher percentage of the useable space than a more appropriate file system, like FAT12 or FAT16.
[*:51fbd69536]Media with limited life span that is related to writes, like flash memory/USB flash drives: The constant writes to the transaction log could conceivably shorten the media life.
[*:51fbd69536]Media that must also be read by an operating system that doesn't support NTFS, like WIndows 95/98/ME.
December 10, 2006 9:00:25 AM

Then how is it new computers (pre-built retail) come with FAT32?????

......or don't they. My bro just got a new laptop and it is FAT32.
December 10, 2006 9:55:53 AM

ntfs for me
but im still quite pissed it uses a 'small' aka 5% overhead for its own little bizzynisses

20gigs gone

only tiems i use fat32 is on usb flash disks or external hdds smaller than 200gig for compatibility for all platforms
December 10, 2006 11:59:49 AM

Then how is it new computers (pre-built retail) come with FAT32?????

......or don't they. My bro just got a new laptop and it is FAT32.

Most new computers I've seen are NTFS formatted. If your bro's came with FAT32, then the computer manufacturer made a mistake. Sometimes, the way a manufacturer images the hard drives of their computers results in a FAT32 partition.

It's not really a problem, use the Windows XP "convert" command-line utility to convert the volume to NTFS if you like (no data loss). I believe with the latest XP service pack that the convert utility will maintain a 4K cluster size. (Old versions of convert used to change the cluster size to 512 bytes on the resulting NTFS partition, resulting in slow performance).