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Fat vs. Fat32 vs. NTFS

millarrp - August 2, 2007 - 4:40pm
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This is something I've always wondered about with flash drives, and I guess this will be a 2 part question.

Which file system will get the best performance out of flash drive..Fat, Fat32, or NTFS?

Also, will a flash drive formated with NTFS work with with older versions of windows (specifically win 95/98/me)?

My apologies in advance if this should have gone to the off topic form.


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Some answers

NTFS on a removable drive is Windows 2000 and up only. It won't work with Windows 95/98/Me. It won't be usable on Mac or Linux either. But it will be better at handling errors.

FAT is supposed to be less susceptible to problems than FAT32... from what I've heard, anyway.

As for performance, FAT/FAT32 would be fastest.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

I've had much better speeds

I've had much better speeds from NTFS vs. FAT/FAT32. And, yes, FAT is does have fewer problems than FAT32 (Windows website).

----
"Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man."
Francis Cardinal Spellman

"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning." - Rick Cook

Thanks

Thanks for clearing that up.

NTFS on a removable drive is

NTFS on a removable drive is Windows 2000 and up only
It's Windows NT 3 and up. Most new Linux versions also support it.

"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." Asimov

Yes and No

NTFS for 2K and up is a different version than NT. And NT doesn't have USB support anyway... so it's a moot point.

I was under the impression that most new Linux distros bundled a read-only NTFS driver.

Sometimes, the impossible can become possible, if you're awesome!

NTFS for 2K and up is a

NTFS for 2K and up is a different version than NT.
AFAIK (not so far...) there is backward compatibility.
And NT doesn't have USB support anyway... so it's a moot point.
You're right, I missed it :oops:
BTW you can have it on NT4 with some 3rd party tools.
I was under the impression that most new Linux distros bundled a read-only NTFS driver.
Kernel 2.6 supports slightly more, but still not normal writes. There are drivers... But require admin rights to install Eye-wink

"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." Asimov

Well, technically, most

Well, technically, most don't have write support, without NTFS-3G (as far as I know).

----
"Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man."
Francis Cardinal Spellman

"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning." - Rick Cook

NTFS is the fastest, but

NTFS is the fastest, but will not work with older Windows versions. I uses NTFS, mainly because with its compression, I can fit more apps on my drive Eye-wink. Plus it's significantly faster. Unless you plan on using your drive on older computers or Linux, NTFS is the way to go.

EDIT: If you want to use it on a Linux computer, NTFS-3G works really well. You do need root permission, though. I use it myself.

----
"Pray as if everything depended upon God and work as if everything depended upon man."
Francis Cardinal Spellman

"Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning." - Rick Cook

FAT should only be used when

FAT should only be used when absolutely necessary because it has severe limits on file and partition size. The only time I can think to use it is when booting from an external drive and the BIOS only supports booting from FAT partitions in external drives. FAT32 is the best compromise between functionality and compatibility. Only very old machines and operating systems can't handle it. If has many, many improvements over FAT. NTFS is your best bet if you won't be using machines that can't support it. If you have your own machine with Linux, you can use NTFS-3G as mentioned. NTFS uses journaling, which greatly reduces the possibility of corruption. There may or may not be readily available support for NTFS in 9x systems; if you are using another's machine with one, don't expect support.

Vintage!

Other Reason to use FAT32

If you are using TrueCrypt Encryption on your USB Stick you may want to use FAT32 if you want to place a hidden volume (A hidden volume within an encrypted larger volume=plausible deniability)on the TrueCrypt Encrypted USB stick. You can't put a hidden volume on an NTFS formatted encrypted Volume.

Also your FAT32 hidden volume can't be any larger than 4GB depending how you set up the TrueCrypt entry. A little less than 4GB if entry is outside the encrypted volume.

www.Seal8.blogspot.com

Also your FAT32 hidden

Also your FAT32 hidden volume can't be any larger than 4GB
That's the filesize limit. FAT has a partition size limit of 4GB. FAT32's partition size limit can be configured to be 2TB IIRC.

Vintage!

Confusing:)

Maybe I didn't explain it well. The hidden volume can't be any larger than 4GB. The Volume inside the encrypted stick (hidden volume)can't be any larger than 4GB.

One of these days there will probably be a 2TB Memory stick:)

www.Seal8.blogspot.com

Must be a TC limitation.

Must be a TC limitation.

Vintage!

FAT32 limitation

is that it can not have single file of more then 4gb. If tried so, either the whole thing will crash or sometimes the file is cut away or similar strange effects.
Try to store an .iso of a DVD of 4.5gb on fat32, you will be surprised what happends.

Otto Sykora
Basel, Switzerland

Volume, not file. FAT32 can

Volume, not file. FAT32 can have volumes much, much larger than 4GB. Big difference.

Vintage!

FAT32 = better use of disk space

Another reason why I (re)format my USB drives for FAT32 is because of better utilization of disk space.

If you want to run a little experiment, format or use a FAT USB drive and load the base PortableApps/OpenOffice Suite of applications. Make note of the available disk space. Now format the drive as FAT32 and reload the PA/OO Suite and note the amount of free disk space. There should be 100MB+ more space available.

-IP

Besides all votes pro

Besides all votes pro NTFS:

I am not sure, but to my knowledge NTFS is not suitable - or at least not the best choice - for usage on removable drives since its (though technically advanced) journaling system causes more read/write cycles compared to FAT/FAT32. Therefore NTFS is suspicious to wear out removable drives faster than FAT. Since FAT is limited sizewise FAT32 seems to be the way to go...

Please feel free to correct my statement. I don't know where, but I have encountered this advice somewhere some time ago (maybe it was a thread in the TrueCrypt-Forum?).

This is true

NTFS's journaling increases the writes to the USB device exponentially. But with the price of the little buggers so low now, you simply throw it away and get a new one when it fails.

And when you rebuild your new device you get all the current PA versions. [g]

Ed

Ed

While its true that NTFS does

While its true that NTFS does have more read/write cycles than FAT/FAT32, that doesn't really matter- anymore. It used to be that flash memory modules had a limited number of read/write cycles before they would fail, and people might actually hit those because it was only 100k-500k cycles. Now days, most flash memory is "limited" to a minimum of 1 million cycles before failure. Besides, the "cycles before failure" refers to each "cell" of the flash module, not the entire chip. This makes the extra read/writes pretty much irrelevant.

And to correct myself, the read/writes should be "writes/erase"- reading doesn't put any wear and tear on the chip.

No. SLC chips have even 2m

No. SLC chips have even 2m cycles, but MLC: 5-20k...

"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." Asimov

NTFS portable?

One has to also see that NTFS has to be formated with 'no security' otherwise it might refuse to work on other computers with restricted account.
There might be no problem on admin accounts or on own account at home, but ntfs folders for own account to be read on other restricted account could be problematic.

That is why I personally use fat32 on sticks, this is certainly more flexible and portable.

Otto Sykora
Basel, Switzerland

Better than those

Better than those 3 filesystems together is ext2 or ext3. Doesn't need defrag (too lazy to show about it, google it), it can also handle errors and other stuff like ntfs... I just don't use it because it does not have support for Window$ without 3rd party tools that need administrator rights.

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#tuna { color: silver; smell: delicious; }

Doesn't need defrag You

Doesn't need defrag
You meant: there's no defrag, right? Eye-wink
NTFS was also said not to need defragmentation.
If ext2-3 don't need it, what are e2defrag, Shake, defrag for?

"Those people who think they know everything are a great annoyance to those of us who do." Asimov

more or less for nothing

only the last one in your list has special purpose, but can not be compared with defrag under win.

Otto Sykora
Basel, Switzerland

There are defrag tools

But if the disk has 20% of free space, there is no point for them. That's because of how the info is stored: FAT and NTFS puts info with no spaces between them, if possible, so there are info that is erased, moved, fragmented... Ext2/3 put info the most far away possible between each one, giving space to the info be changed without being fragmented.

____________________
The Blogger of Portimão

#tuna { color: silver; smell: delicious; }

But since ext2 and ext3 are

But since ext2 and ext3 are Linux filesystems that do not support Windows natively they are both simply unusable and of no interest for portableapps.com users...

.

File systems don't support an OS, OSs support file systems. So windows doesn't support ext2/3 natively, just as linux doesn't support ntfs natively

Actually...

Latest Linux distros, like Ubuntu 8.04, have the NTFS driver module installed by default, and it allows to read and write from it, although no permissions are followed.

So Linux has basic support for Windows filesystems (either natively or with a module), while NT Windows only has support for Linux filesystem with the ext2fs 3rd party application (the only that I know that allows read/write). And older Windows don't even support NTFS.

#tuna { color: silver; smell: delicious; }

Not all current Linux distros

Not all current Linux distros have read/write access to NTFS. Some default to read only unless you specifically enable write access in the fstab entry for that drive.

The solution seems to be to use FAT32 for apps & data needing portability across OS's; NTFS, ext2, ext3, or ReiserFS for files larger than the 4gb FAT32 limit; and a higher write limit drive (rotating memory today) if you choose NTFS.

Use FAT on flash drives

Use FAT on flash drives because NTFS uses part of the storage space to keep informations about the stored files. And don't format it with Windows. Use HP USB disk storage format tool.(freeware) I've used it on 3 flash drives (all not HP) and I gained a few MB compared to windows format. It's not much much but it can be quite usefull when you need just a few extra MB especially because USB drives never have the exact amount of memory that is written on the box. They always have some MB less.

http://www.pcworld.com/downloads/file/fid,64963-order,4-page,1-c,periphe...

Please do not remove the link because it is freeware and the program is extremely usefull for flash drive owners.

Artificial intelligence stands no chance against natural stupidity!

FAT32 is much, much better

FAT32 is much, much better than FAT. There are only a few cases where FAT32 won't work, and they are not common.

Vintage!