FAT32 vs. NTFS

FAT32 and NTFS are file systems created for keeping track of files in the hard disk. A file system is a set of logical constructs that dictate how the space on a disk volume is to be utilized. NTFS is more robust and effective simply because of its advanced features and functionalities. FAT, in general, comprises of overly simplistic data structures, hence making operations more time consuming. The functionalities of NTFS are far more over-powering since it makes use of advanced data structures to improve reliability, disk space utilization and overall performance.

Comparison chart

Edit this comparison chart



Introduced 1977 July 1993 (Windows NT 3.1)

Contents: FAT32 vs NTFS

edit Origins of FAT and NTFS

FAT (File Allocation Table) was created by Bill Gates and Marc McDonald in the year 1977. It has undergone many changes since then. The number "32" in FAT32 denotes the number of bits needed to keep track of the files. FAT16 was popular until the arrival of 4GB hard disks. NTFS was born from HPFS file system in collaboration of Microsoft and IBM. NTFS appeared initially for Windows NT platform. Since then it has developed and appears in recent versions of Windows like Vista, XP. Microsoft continues to hold on to NTFS patent.

edit Features of NTFS vs FAT

FAT32 is a fluff-free and simple system that is documented and mainly keeps track of file locations. The simplicity of FAT32 has made it the file system of choice for portable storage mediums like in memory cards, mp3 players and flash players. NTFS file system is more complex and offers multiple enhancements that increase security as well as performance. NTFS file system allows automatic file compression prior to being written freeing up hard disk space and also has disk quotas which allows system administrator to allocate disk space to users.

FAT32 is a derivative of the (FAT) File Allocation Table which supports drives with more than 2GB storage. The largest possible file is 4GB minus 2 bytes. In comparison to its earlier versions, FAT32 uses small clusters and hence uses space more effectively. It can relocate the root folder and use the backup copy of the FAT instead of the default copy. NTFS is much more flexible than FAT32. NTFS does file-level encryption, sparse file support, disk usage quotas, distributed link tracing, file compression, hierarchical storage management etc.

edit Advantages and Disadvantages

FAT32 can be converted to NTFS but it is not so easy to convert NTFS back to FAT. NTFS has great security, file by file compression, quotas and file encryption. If there is more than one operating system on a single computer, it is better to format some volumes as FAT32.

Using multiple operating systems in same computer would make FAT32 a better choice if you want both OSs to read the drive. If there is only Windows OS, NTFS is perfectly fine. Thus in a Windows computer system NTFS is a better option.

edit Video explaining the differences

edit References

Share this comparison:

If you read this far, you should follow us:

"FAT32 vs NTFS." Diffen.com. Diffen LLC, n.d. Web. 26 May 2015. < >

Related Comparisons Follow Diffen
Top 5 Comparisons
Make Diffen Smarter.

Log in to edit comparisons or create new comparisons in your area of expertise!

Sign up »

Comments: FAT32 vs NTFS

Anonymous comments (8)

April 23, 2013, 7:41pm

Thank You so much ...Sir for giving Clear information ~~~VIVEK (Vicky)

— 223.✗.✗.49

April 17, 2013, 5:46pm

this is good explanation here

— 62.✗.✗.12

August 16, 2013, 5:45am

great explanation ...thanks Annamalai

— 182.✗.✗.162

April 30, 2014, 12:13pm

Ntfs=new technology file system

— 37.✗.✗.139

September 13, 2013, 5:30pm

The author explained what FAT stands for, but how about NTFS?

— 201.✗.✗.26

September 8, 2013, 4:03am

Good and important information

— 180.✗.✗.61

August 29, 2013, 2:27am

Thank you. It is good to know. May be I need to look at the cards that didn't work with some systems and reformat them to the FAT systems, since the security is secondary to the drive being able to be compatible with the system first and the security could always be achieved with other means. What I still don't know is whether the security means the data stability or whether it could be safer from the prying eyes ?! Any comments?

— 74.✗.✗.60

December 22, 2012, 5:31pm

New technology almost always Trumps old technology. FAT is 35 years old.

— 68.✗.✗.190


Up next

Mac vs. PC