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Saturday, February 14, 2009

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written by: Ukion in
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Windows file systems FAT, FAT32, NTFS, definitions, conversion

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How many times, during the formatting of hard discs, you asked yourself in which file system you should reformat it. Is that FAT, maybe FAT32, why NTFS? On the beginning, let’s explain meaning of every mentioned term:
FAT (16) - File Allocation Table
FAT32 – 32 bit File Allocation Table
NTFS – New Technology File System

The first FAT (someone calls it FAT16) was introduced already with MS – DOS and today it is almost not used at all. It is limited by file names’ length to 8.3 characters, and the smallest cluster (logic unit used for data recording on hard disc) on partition occupies 32kB. It does not support compression, encryption, and it is not possible to securely limit the access to clusters.

FAT32 that appeared with Windows 95 SP2 operating system is actually an upgrade from FAT16, it offers larger number of clusters by partition, and because of that characteristic the grade of hard disc usage is improved. Other characteristics are identical as with FAT16. For more details look at HERE.

And finally, NTFS. Introduced with Windows NT, it brought significantly upgraded security, and encryption usage. Certainly, it is recommended to use NTFS if you install Windows 2000, XP, Vista and 7 (seven) operating systems. Features like Active Directory service and domain security can be used only with NTFS file system. Sites with detailed instructions HERE and HERE will show you more information about this subject.

If have XP or Vista or you have not done the conversion of file system, nothing is lost. You can convert FAT16 and FAT32 volumes to NTFS at any time, but do not forget that you could not return so easily to Fat or FAT32 (without disc or partition formatting). After partition setting you can convert it with Convert.exe program, and partition conversion is very simple. It is enough to open Start >- Run - type "cmd" (without the quotation marks) and in command - line window type "convert letter_of_volume: /fs:ntfs". For example, if you type "convert D: /fs:ntfs", you would format disc D: using the NTFS. With that command, you can convert FAT or FAT32 drive into NTFS.

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