USB Drive's File Format: FAT32 Vs EXFAT Vs NTF

Martin Wilson

Jun 23, 2022

In computers, the process of storing and retrieving data is controlled by a file system. If the file system were not used, the information saved to a storage media would be combined into one massive body of data, and there would be no way to determine where one piece of information ended and the next one began.


One of the three different file systems that Windows may use, FAT32 is one of the oldest of the three. It was introduced in Windows 95. The maximum size for individual files on a FAT32 disc is 4 gigabytes, and that limit cannot be exceeded. It is recommended that a FAT32 partition be fewer than 8 terabytes in size (TB). Inside each cluster that makes up the file allocation table, the FAT32 comprises four bytes.

Advantages of Using FAT32

  • As long as each cluster is 32 KB in size, the FAT32 file system can store up to 268.173.300 individual files.
  • This file system can support disc capacities of up to 2 terabytes (TB), or even 16 TB, when using 64 KB clusters.
  • This system will also move the root folder, where you will find a copy of the backed-up FAT table to utilize.
  • The FAT 32 file system supports boot records that may be enlarged on FAT32 discs.

Disadvantages of FAT32

  • It is impossible to save a file greater than 4 gigabytes on this device.
  • A FAT32 partition greater than 8 terabytes (TB) cannot be created by the user.
  • It does not have the permissions or other security measures included in the more contemporary NTFS file system.
  • You cannot install current Windows versions using the FAT32 file system. This is because the FAT32 file system makes it impossible to install windows on drives that have been formatted using the FAT32 file system.


The EXFAT file system was first made available in 2006. It was later made available for previous versions of Windows via upgrades to the operating systems for Windows XP and Windows Vista. It is recognized as the most recent file system upgrade that Microsoft has released for the Windows operating system. This system can read and write to flash drives, sometimes known as thumb drives, as well as memory cards. An expanded file allocation table is what "EXFAT" stands for in its entire form. It offers generous quotas for both file and partition sizes to work with. It enhances the performance of EXFAT on flash discs.

Advantages of Using EXFAT

  • Files accidentally deleted from the EXFAT file system may be restored using the EXFAT file recovery feature.
  • Restore the EXFAT file system on a Windows computer that was formatted.
  • It can recover data from various storage devices, including hard drives, USB drives, memory cards, memory sticks, and so on.
  • Retrieve files from EXFAT such as documents, pictures, images, video, audio, email, etc.
  • It allows you to store files far bigger than the 4 GB limit that FAT32 imposes.
  • No realistic file-size or partition-size constraints

Advantages of Using EXFAT

  • Lacking the compatibility of FAT32
  • It does not provide access to the journaling capabilities or any other sophisticated features in the NTFS file system.


NTFS is a contemporary file system utilized by Windows as the primary file system for the operating system. When you install Windows 10 on your desktop computer or laptop, the NTFS file system automatically applies to the system disc. Both the file size and the partition size restrictions of this file system are quite high, so it is highly unlikely that you would exhaust all of the available disc space.

Windows XP was the operating system that marked the first appearance of the NTFS file system. It offers file permissions for security, a modification in a journal that enables you to recover when your computer fails, and it allows you to reach disc quota restrictions and shadow copies of your backup, among other features.

The Advantages of NTFS

  • It is possible to create a backup of the boot sector.
  • This feature enables you to format volumes of up to 2 terabytes in size and establish disc quotas.
  • The NTFS file system is compatible with both the Mac OS X operating system and the Linux operating system.
  • This file system allows you to reduce the times you have to browse a directory to locate a certain file.
  • It is compatible with enormous data, and the maximum size of a practical partition is almost unrestricted.
  • It is a more secure file system that allows users to encrypt their data and change permissions for individual files.

The disadvantages NTFS

  • The NTFS file system cannot be used on MS-DOS, Windows 95, or Windows 98 computers.
  • The NTFS file system is sluggish and has a limited capacity on the disc.

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