Difference Between FAT and NTFS File Systems

This article discuss about the two main file systems-FAT32 and NTFS Used in Windows operating system, their different features and hence provides a comparison table summary for better understanding.

You have always seen these two options while installing windows operating system during the Format section or while formating your Pen drive or memory card.You mostly goes with NTFS for installing windows.

But, Have you ever think,why?? Which one is better between both of these? 
Which file system should we use and when ?

Let`s try to find out...

Introduction to FAT and NTFS File System :

FAT ( File Allocation Table ) was the simplest file sytem which organize the files into a table, introduced by Microsoft in 1977, That is supported by DOS all versions of Microsoft Windows.FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, exFAT are the different derivatives of FAT file system which are compatible with different different windows versions.It is simple, reliable, and uses little storage.FAT32 are widely used for flash memory cards and USB flash sticks.

NTFS ( New Technology File system ) is the newer file system which organize files into sorted directories , introduced in 1993 by Microsoft. This file system is mostly used in all windows versions in and after Windows NT updates.NTFS provides mostly features like long file names, large volumes, data security.

Both of these file systems have some advantages and disadvantages.Both the file systems are used in windows operating systems.

How can we name any file in these systems ?

In FAT,The name can be up to 8.3 characters long that means the name of a file or directory can be up to eight characters long, then a period (.) separator, and up to a three character extension. The name must start with either a letter or number and can contain any characters except the following:  . " / \ [ ] : ; | = , 
It uses ASCII character set.

In NTFS, The name can be up to 255 characters long. Names can contain any characters except the following: ? " / \ < > * | :
It uses Unicode character set.

Summary Table for FAT32 and NTFS Image

                                   Click Here to DOWNLOAD

Other Features Of FAT32 and NTFS :

FAT32 supports drives upto 2TB but Windows 2000 only supports drives upto 32 GB that is listed in the table.

FAT32 handles data efficiently and have cluster size about 4 KB for a drive up to 8 GB but NTFS handles data more effieciently and also have low cluster size for 8 GB.

Recovery is easy in NTFS i.e. auto repair than FAT32.

These are the some features and points which can help you in better understand these file systems.
If there is anything mis-matched,correct yourself and also remind me.

Have Fun!


  1. nyc post sir..it vl help in my os exam... ;)

  2. NTFS work slower on small volumes...why it is so???
    n why it is used while installing windows...both works by creating a file index table.....

    1. Note that FAT structure is simpler and folder size is smaller for equal no. of files.
      To view a file, FAT has to search the folder structure.

      whereas NTFS uses MFT record (that stores the information required to retrieve files) ..and if a folder is small enough to fit in the MFT record, NTFS reads the entire folder when it reads its MFT record.

      Moreover,The average time to find a file on a FAT folder is a function of N /2, where N is the number of files. On an NTFS folder, the average time is a function of Log N .

      NTFS is used while installing windows, It is cleared in the difference that FAT cannot create a volume larger than 32 GB with good functionality.
      NTFS is the recommended file system because it offers better reliability, security, and support for hard disks over 32 GB.

      So long explanation....
      I hope,it cleared your doubt.

    2. thanku.. :)

    3. Glad You got your answer.
      Have Fun!


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