FAT32 vs. exFAT vs. NTFS: What's the Difference?

In this tutorial, we will learn about the key difference between File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32), Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT), and NT File System (NTFS) in Operating System. By IncludeHelp Last updated : May 06, 2023

What is File System?

The file system organizes files into standard storage units for creating, modifying, and renaming, copying, and deleting files to and from a storage device. We may assume, in general, that a file system offers a way to organize a drive. It determines how information is stored on the drive and what kinds of data can be added to files, filenames, permissions, and other attributes.

Types of File Systems

Three separate file systems, NTFS, FAT32 and exFAT, are supported by Windows:

1. File Allocation Table 32 (FAT32)

The FAT file system is a basic file system that was initially intended for small discs and simple folder structures.

2. Extended File Allocation Table (exFAT)

This file system was come in existence during the year 2006, the exFAT file system was introduced with older versions of Windows with Windows XP and Windows Vista updates. ExFAT is designed to be a lightweight file system such as FAT32, but without the extra features and over the head of NTFS and without the limitations of FAT32, and is optimized for flash drives.

3. NT File System (NTFS)

NTFS supports security file permissions, recovers errors quickly if the device crashes, backup shadow copies, encryption, disc quota restrictions, hard links, and various other features.

Difference between FAT32, exFAT, and NTFS File Systems

1 FAT32 is one of the oldest methods amongst the three file systems. Added to older versions of Windows with Windows XP and Windows Vista updates. NTFS is one of the latest file systems of windows and crammed with latest features within which are not in on FAT32 and exFAT.
2 It was implemented in Windows 95 all the way back to replace the older FAT16 file system. It was introduced during the 2006. In market versions of Windows with Windows XP, NTFS first appeared.
3 Individual files on a FAT32 drive should not be larger than 4 GB. On file and partition sizes, exFAT has very wide limits. There is no pragmatic file-size or partition size limits fixed in NT File System.
4 It is compatible with all versions of Windows. It is mostly working with all versions of Windows and also having its compatibility with modern versions of Mac operating system. This file system works with all available versions of Windows and having its compatibility as read-only mode with Mac operating system by default.
5 It is less fruitful as compare to Extended File Allocation Table and NT File System. Extended File Allocation Table is better than File Allocation Table 32 but less effective as compare to NT File System. It is much better than File Allocation Table 32 and NT File System.

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