All about NTFS, FAT32, and exFAT File System
What Is A File System?
A file system is basically a set of rules used to decide how data is stored and fetched in a storage device, be it a hard drive, flash drive, or something else. Like the conventional way we used to store data in our offices in different files, the same method is deployed in computing. A defined set of data called a ‘File’ is stored at a specified location in a storage device. If the file system is kicked out of the computing world, all we will be left with is a large chunk of unrecognizable data in our storage media.There are many types of files systems available for different storage options like the Disk File System, Flash File System, Tape File System, and so on. But for now, I’ll be restricting myself with the three Disk File Systems FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT.
Fat32 is a universal file system, meaning it is accepted by any operating system. This file system is usually pre-installed on any USB drive you buy from the store. The biggest limitation of the Fat32 file system is that it has a file size limit of 4GB, which can be a problem for high-size files. If you’re just sharing small files between computers, however, it’s a fine system to use.
Microsoft has created this new filesystem to replace FAT32. It has a maximum file size of 16 exabytes (equals to 1.6e+10 Gigabyte. It’s going to take us a while to hit that), and it’s compatible with both Mac and Windows PC. Though it’s a proprietary Microsoft technology, Apple licensed it for use in its OSes. so you’ll see it as an option when formatting a drive in OS X. For swapping or sharing large files, especially between OSes, exFAT is the way to go.
One downside to exFAT is that it doesn’t have any journaling functionality, which is a system whereby any changes to the files on the disk are noted in a log before they’re actually performed. This helps data integrity by recording the changes to files before they take place.
This is the newest file system created by Microsoft and is the default file system for almost every modern internal hard drive and SSD. NTFS stands for New Technology File System. It is default file system because it has all the technology Microsoft has on tap these days : journaling, no reasonable file size limitations; support for file compression and long file names; file access control for server administrators, and lots more.
The problem is that NTFS can be read by Mac OS, but not can’t write without third-party software. This means if you plug an NTFS-formatted drive into a Mac you can copy the contents from it, but you can’t alter the contents or write to it, so it’s not good for cross-platform sharing.