NTFS vs FAT32 on external USB2.0 HDD

RohanM

Active Member
Apart from the size of individual files being lower on FAT32-formatted external HDDs, what's the difference?

I'm asking because I've just bought a Western Digital Passport Elite 320Gb USB2.0 external HDD and started backing up the home Windows XP laptop (using the SW supplied with the HDD) BEFORE re-formatting to NTFS... Which I was told to do by a (usually) knowledgeable colleague - and I forgot :(.

And it's now an hour (and 32Gb - damn those Apple Lossless files!) later and it's still backing-up... and I'd rather not have to go through it all again; which I assume I would have to do if I re-formatted.
 

Mr X

Distinguished Member
Probably best to wait for some others to give you advice as Im not an expert on the topic other that to point out that FAT is handy if you intend hot swapping between PC and Mac if that's relevant to you? Also if you have a PS3 it will read from FAT - I'm not sure it does with NTFS? Like I said I'm sure someone more knowledgeable will come along soon :thumbsup:
 

Boon72

Active Member
ntfs allows large files and is more secure, fat32 is used to use on multi platforms as mac's, ps3's, 360's dont like ntfs(genarally can read it but cant write to it) and it cant support files bigger than 2gb (used to have a limit around size but not sure what this is or if its been sorted)
 

satty55

Novice Member
Fat 32 has a 4gb file size limit which will be the main drawback for you. If you're using exclusively windows I'd use NTFS.

You can convert your current drive leaving your files intact by opening a command prompt and running:

convert drive letter: /fs:ntfs

e.g. if your drive had drive letter e: you would run:

convert e: /fs:ntfs
 

RohanM

Active Member
Fat 32 has a 4gb file size limit which will be the main drawback for you. If you're using exclusively windows I'd use NTFS.

You can convert your current drive leaving your files intact by opening a command prompt and running:

convert drive letter: /fs:ntfs

e.g. if your drive had drive letter e: you would run:

convert e: /fs:ntfs
Thanks for the responses so far!

I'm all Windows - apart from the iPod Touch/iTunes... This sounds like what I should do, and probably will tonight once the kiddies are in bed.

Is there a discernible performance difference between the two? Must admit, the back-up (I know it was the first one) took ages...
 

jetinder

Novice Member
Even though i have NTFS i keep the backup drive on FAT32 as then the same data can be used by any system i build.
 

satty55

Novice Member
Is there a discernible performance difference between the two?
Your usb2 interface will be the bottleneck so the file system used will be irrelevant. NTFS is slightly less susceptible to file corruption which is probably the main advantage to you.
 

RohanM

Active Member
thanks to everyone. it looks like there is no real performance difference, and from what i can see from a wider websearch, for what i have in mind for the HDD, the formatting is neither here nor there...

So, if I really want the Peace of Mind, then NFTS seems to be the way to go; but whether it is truly necessary is another question :confused:

Oh well, let's see if I can find a bottle of Duvel in the back of the store for some clarity! :)
 

Paul Shirley

Novice Member
NTFS is slightly less susceptible to file corruption which is probably the main advantage to you.
NTFS is massively more robust than FAT32, which has a very nasty habit of deleting its root structures on improperly dismounted removable drives. ntfs tends to lose individual files on corruption, not the whole filesystem! While its usually easier to repair FAT/FAT32 problems I've never needed to manually repair an ntfs volume - I know which I prefer ;)

FAT is almost always faster than ntfs but at the cost of safety and it lacks some features (that you probably won't miss).
 

PR1

Novice Member
NTFS is a journaling file system - if you lose power or have some crazy occurence, there's what is essentially a transaction log that will replay during mount (at boot), which should ensure a consistent file system. Note you could still lose data, but it shouldn't destroy the entire FS under normal circumstances. It's a proprietary Microsoft format, and anything that works with it is probably reverse engineered and has potential to stop working when MS decide to change the format.

FAT isn't. So it doesn't have the overhead of journaling. Also, it doesn't pack small files directly in to an MFT. And probably other things too, but they're the big two that make FAT32 'faster' and lower CPU overhead. Also FAT is ubiquotous - virtually anything that can read and write a file system can read and write FAT, and MS's patent on it got quashed so it's pretty open now...

NTFS is superior in most ways to FAT - if you're windows only, use it. There are plenty of other file systems but it makes little sense to go to the hassle of finding IFS drivers when NTFS or FAT fit most needs.

Sorry I think I've gone off on one. :)
 

kabalman

Standard Member
Only disadvantage with NTFS as compared to FAT is that it is not universally recognised, like Mac, my DVD/DivX player etc. Otherwise I agree NTFS is the better file system.
 
32GB of data over USB say at 10mb/s, then your looking at 600MB/Minute, 6GB in 10 Minutes so between 50-60 minutes, but USB transfer can dip to lower speeds...
 

Fe_man2000

Well-known Member
ANSWER
external drive 160GB

2 PARTITIONS
30 GB FAT32
130 GB NTFS

The xbox 360 can only see FAT32 and I need that from time to time, I also need to move iso images which are larger than 4GB which is FATS limit so have a NTFS partition. Simple.
 

dazg81

Novice Member
hi guys, im looking at buying a portable hdd, so i can view my media on the xbox, but was wondering how i would format to fat32 due to windows only formating up to 32gb.

cheers
 

HellRazer

Standard Member
I would stick to using NTFS on the hard drive. Usually it is recommended that hard drives over 40gigs in size use NTFS just because of the way the sectors are allocated in the hard drive. NTFS has better sector management in bigger hard drives hence allowing you to store more files per sector on it.

It would be useful to read into the way allocation tables manage information in hard drives as it will give you a better understanding of what I am trying to say.
 

Fe_man2000

Well-known Member
Use one of the small free apps - like fat32format or similar - it runs in windows and will format the drive to its correct size.
 

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