Tuesday, June 23, 2009

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Choosing The Right File System For Windows

The filesystem is the invisible mechanism on your hard disk that is responsible for keeping track of all the data stored on the drive. Think of it as a massive table of contents, matching up each filename with its corresponding data stored somewhere on the disk surface. 

Different Types Of FileSysyem Supported By Windows:
  • FAT (File Allocation Table, 16-bit)
  • FAT32 (File Allocation Table, 32-bit)
  • NTFS (NT Filesystem)

FAT (File Allocation Table, 16-bit)
FAT is used for all drives under 512 MB, such as flash memory cards and floppy disks. The largest drive supported by the FAT filesystem is 2 GB.

FAT32 (File Allocation Table, 32-bit)
Designed to overcome the 2 GB partition limit with the FAT system, FAT32 is supported by every version of Windows since Windows 95 OSR2. Today, it’s used mostly for flash memory cards larger than 2 GB, and on older PCs running Windows 98 and Windows Me. In addition to the support for larger drives, it stores information more efficiently than FAT using smaller file clusters . 

NTFS (NT Filesystem)
NTFS, designed from the ground up to completely replace FAT/FAT32, is the default filesystem on all Vista PCs. (Specifically, Vista supports NTFS version 3.1.) It offers security features like encryption and permissions, compression, and quotas. It’s typically faster and more reliable than FAT/FAT32, and supports drives up to 2 terabytes in size.  
If Windows Vista is the only operating system on your computer, you should be using NTFS—no question. The only compelling reason to use another filesystem is if you have a dual-boot setup with a very old version of Windows, in which case you’d need to choose a filesystem recognized by all operating systems on your computer.

File Systems Supported By Different Versions Of Windows
Windows Vista - FAT(data only) | FAT32 (data only) | NTFS (v3.1)
Windows XP - FAT | FAT32 | NTFS (v3.1)
Windows 2003 - FAT | FAT32 | NTFS (v3.1)
Windows 2000 - FAT | FAT32 | NTFS (v3.0)
Windows Me, 98, and 95 ORS2 - FAT | FAT32
Windows NT 4.0 - FAT | NTFS(v1.2)
WIndows 95 - FAT

To find out which filesystem is currently being used by a particular drive on your PC, just right-click the drive in Windows Explorer and select Properties. Or, open the Disk Management utility (diskmgmt.msc) to see an overview of all of your drives.
Note: There’s actually a fourth type, CDFS, used by CD-ROMs.

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Haja Peer Mohamed H, Software Engineer by profession, Author, Founder and CEO of "bench3" you can connect with me on Twitter , Facebook and also onGoogle+

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