Difference Between FAT32 and NTFS

Both of these are types of file systems. Before we understand the difference between FAT32 and NTFS, let us know more about file systems first.

A file system generates the ways in which one can organize their drive. The primary operation of a file system is to specify how the drive needs to store its data along with the information like permissions, filenames, and other attributes attached to these files. Windows provides support to three file systems, a.k.a. NTFS, exFAT, and FAT32. These files transitioned in the following sequence:

  • Original 8-bit FAT (8-bit File Allocation Table)
  • FAT12 (8-bit FAT)
  • FAT16 (the initial 16-bit FAT with sector entries of 16-bits)
  • FAT16B (the final 16-bit FAT with sector entries of 32-bits)
  • FAT32 (the 32-bit FAT)
  • exFAT (Extensible FAT)
  • (New Technology File System) NTFS

In an OS (operating system), we use the NTFS and FAT32 file system types. In this article, we will discuss the difference between both of these file systems. Read ahead to know more.

What is FAT32?

The term FAT32 is an acronym for File Allocation Table 32. It is basically an extension to the file systems used previously that stores kits data in 32-bit chunks. The FAT16 comes with some limitations, and FAT32 merged as an upgraded version to overcome these limitations. It also supports larger media. The older versions of OS, like Windows XP, Windows 95, etc., utilized the FAT32.

Pros of FAT32:

  • It works efficiently under various partitions of about 200 MB.
  • It frequently works as a primary partition in the case of multi-boot systems.
  • It is very much compatible with various operating systems.

Cons of FAT32:

  • It is not very secure as it lacks encryption.
  • The partitions present in FAT32 (which have a size of about 200 MB) can lead to degradation in the overall performance.
  • It stays susceptible to fragmentation.

What is NTFS?

The term NTFS is an acronym for New Technology File System. It first came into existence in 1993. Now, we use it in the newer operating system versions, like Windows 2000, Windows NT, and the later versions. NTFS is a very high-performance logging and robust file system that has access control for multiple users. It also comes with ACLs and various other things that make NTFS appropriate for working with an OS with protection. It includes various characteristics like security, fault tolerance, multi-streaming, data recovery, UNICODE names, extended file size, and many more.

We use the exFAT wherever the NTFS doesn’t deem suitable, mainly because of the overhead in the data structure. But it also needs a greater limit of file size as compared to the standard FAT32.

Pros of NTFS:

  • It is very less susceptible to fragmentation.
  • It can easily perform really well even when the partition size goes up to 400 MB.
  • The file system is highly secure. It can easily avoid unauthorized access to a third party to the files because it enforces the EFS (Encryption File System).

Cons of NTFS:

  • The overall performance of an NTFS file system ultimately degrades with its partitions of 400 MB each.
  • It comes with no extensive support.

Difference Between FAT32 and NTFS

Parameters FAT32 NTFS
Full-Form The term FAT32 is an acronym for File Allocation Table 32. The term NTFS is an acronym for New Technology File System.
Structure FAT32 has a very simple structure. NTFS comes with a very complex structure.
Maximum Size of Files FAT32 has a maximum file size of 4 GB. NTFS has a maximum file size of 16 TB.
Maximum Character Support provided in a File Name FAT32 supports a maximum of 83 characters. NTFS supports a maximum of 255 characters.
Security It comes with only network-type security. It comes with both- network type and local securities.
Encryption It does not come encrypted. It comes encrypted with the EFS (Encrypting File System).
Fault Tolerance The FAT32 does not provide fault tolerance. NTFS comes with the system of automatic troubleshooting.
Compression It does not allow compression. It allows the compression of files.
User-level Disk Space It is not present in FAT32. It is present in NTFS.
Accessing Speed FAT32 has a lower accessing speed. NTFS has a comparatively higher accessing speed than the other file systems.
Conversions FAT32 allows conversions. NTFS does not allow any conversions.
Compatibility with the OS It is compatible with Windows 95, Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows 2003, Windows XP, etc. It is compatible with Windows NT, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows 2000, Windows 8, Windows 10, Linux, macOS, etc.

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