NTFS and FAT32?


G

George

I'm using a WinXP PC, and when I was in the Defrag screen, noticed that the
drives are like this:

(C:) NTFS
WD Passport (E:) FAT32

The second one is an external Winchester hard drive, USB connected.

I know NTFS and FAT32 are something to do with drive formatting (right?),
but in "layman's" terms, wondered if some folks could tell me...
1) What does that mean?
2) Is one better than the other?
3) Why would the external drive be different?
4) Should I "re-format" the external drive to be NTFS?
5)NTFS is newer, right?

Thanks,
George
 
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M

M and D

1. NTFS and FAT32 are file systems. A file system is a method for organizing data on a hard disk.
2. It's not a question of 'better'. They are what they are. Each has plusses and minusses.
3. Dunno -- I'm not the manufacturer. Here's a guess: External drives are used for storing data, and FAT32 tends to be faster for data access, theoretically at least.
4. Up to you. Learn about the differences and make your choice. Google is a great place to look for info.
5. Yes, but so what? I'm older -- am I no good anymore?

Steven
 
R

Richard in AZ

In General
NTFS stands for New Technology File System.
FAT32 stands for File Allocation Table (32 bit addressing)

NTFS gives Windows XP, Windows NT and Windows 2000 some added security options and some improvement
in minimum sector size on large hard drives.

FAT32 works perfectly well with Windows XP and it is also readable from DOS or Windows 9x. NTFS
drives are not readable with DOS or Windows 98 operating systems. You will find more details if you
do some Google research. However, if you ever want to read that external drive from a Windows 98
machine, I would leave it in FAT32.

: I'm using a WinXP PC, and when I was in the Defrag screen, noticed that the
: drives are like this:
:
: (C:) NTFS
: WD Passport (E:) FAT32
:
: The second one is an external Winchester hard drive, USB connected.
:
: I know NTFS and FAT32 are something to do with drive formatting (right?),
: but in "layman's" terms, wondered if some folks could tell me...
: 1) What does that mean?
: 2) Is one better than the other?
: 3) Why would the external drive be different?
: 4) Should I "re-format" the external drive to be NTFS?
: 5)NTFS is newer, right?
:
: Thanks,
: George
:
:
 
R

Ron Martell

George said:
I'm using a WinXP PC, and when I was in the Defrag screen, noticed that the
drives are like this:

(C:) NTFS
WD Passport (E:) FAT32

The second one is an external Winchester hard drive, USB connected.

I know NTFS and FAT32 are something to do with drive formatting (right?),
but in "layman's" terms, wondered if some folks could tell me...
1) What does that mean?
2) Is one better than the other?
3) Why would the external drive be different?
4) Should I "re-format" the external drive to be NTFS?
5)NTFS is newer, right?

Thanks,
George
"M and D" have given you some good information. Here are some
additional items:

1. Because the second drive is an external one it has the potential
to be easily moved to a different computer. If this is something you
might do, and if the other computer(s) are running Windows 95/98/Me
then you do not want to convert the drive to NTFS as those Windows
versions cannot access NTFS drives.

2. NTFS is a more robust file system, and is less likely to become
corrupted. However it is also more difficult to fix if it does become
corrupted and there are not as many utilities, especially free ones,
that can fix or recover data from damaged NTFS drives.

3. NTFS is the preferred file system where security issues are
concerned, especially if you are running Windows XP Pro and want to
set up security controls at the file and/or folder level.

4. Windows XP includes a utility which will convert an existing drive
from FAT32 to NTFS without destroying the contents. However it is not
always the best option, as doing this without first running a
partition boundary aligment utility will result in the NTFS drive
having a highly inefficient 512 byte data cluster size. If you want
to convert the drive and if there is no important data on the drive
that is not backed up then your best method of converting is to use
Start - Run - DISKMGMT.MSC to delete the existing FAT32 partition on
the removable drive, create a new NTFS partition to use the whole
capacity of the drive, and then format the new NTFS partition. That
will ensure that the new partition is aligned properly for NTFS and
give it the correck 4K cluster size.

Good luck

Ron Martell Duncan B.C. Canada
--
Microsoft MVP (1997 - 2006)
On-Line Help Computer Service
http://onlinehelp.bc.ca

"Anyone who thinks that they are too small to make a difference
has never been in bed with a mosquito."
 
Z

Zilbandy

I know NTFS and FAT32 are something to do with drive formatting (right?),
but in "layman's" terms, wondered if some folks could tell me...
1) What does that mean?
2) Is one better than the other?
I use my external usb hard drive for storing backup images of my other
computers. These individual images are currently around 15gbytes each.
For files this size, NTFS must be used. FAT32 will support file sizes
up to 4gb max. If you plan on using your hard drive for backups, I'd
consider reformating it to NTFS.
 
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B

Bruce Chambers

George said:
I'm using a WinXP PC, and when I was in the Defrag screen, noticed that the
drives are like this:

(C:) NTFS
WD Passport (E:) FAT32

The second one is an external Winchester hard drive, USB connected.

I know NTFS and FAT32 are something to do with drive formatting (right?),
but in "layman's" terms, wondered if some folks could tell me...
1) What does that mean?
2) Is one better than the other?

Personally, I wouldn't even consider using FAT32 when NTFS is an
option. FAT32 has no security capabilities, no compression
capabilities, no fault tolerance, and a lot of wasted hard drive space
on volumes larger than 8 Gb in size. But your computing needs may vary,
and there is no hard and fast answer.

To answer your questions without getting too technical is
difficult, but has been handled quite well by the late Alex Nichol in
the article here:

FAT & NTFS File Systems in Windows XP
http://www.aumha.org/a/ntfs.htm

Somewhat more technical information is here:

Limitations of the FAT32 File System in Windows XP
http://support.microsoft.com/directory/article.asp?ID=kb;en-us;Q314463

Choosing Between File Systems
http://www.microsoft.com/technet/treeview/default.asp?url=/TechNet/prodtechnol/winntas/tips/techrep/filesyst.asp

NTFS file system
http://www.digit-life.com/articles/ntfs/

3) Why would the external drive be different?

Because that's the way you (or a previous owner or the manufacturer)
formatted it. There's no technical reason that it would need to be FAT32.

4) Should I "re-format" the external drive to be NTFS?

Will that external drive ever be connected to a computer running an OS,
such as Win98/Me, that cannot read the NTFS file system? If so, leave
it as FAT32. If not, you can obtain NTFS' superior security and
reliability by converting the partition to NTFS. You can safely convert
your current hard drive to NTFS whenever desired, without having to
format the partition and reinstall everything. As always when
performing any serious changes, back up any important data before
proceeding, just in case. A little advance preparation is also strongly
recommended, so you can avoid any performance hits caused by the default
cluster size:

Converting FAT32 to NTFS in Windows
http://www.aumha.org/a/ntfscvt.htm


5)NTFS is newer, right?

Actually, the two file systems are about the same age. NTFS was
developed from the older HPFS used by IBM's OS/2 operating system, and
was first widely distributed with Windows NT 4.0, starting in 1996 (If I
remember correctly; I can't recall if WinNT 3.51 used NTFS). FAT32 was
first made available with Windows 95 OSR2, which was released in the
1996-97 time-frame. However, the version of NTFS that's available with
WinXP is certainly newer than any existing versions of FAT32, whose
development ended with WinMe.


--

Bruce Chambers

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