February 6, 2008

NTFS vs FAT

Criteria

NTFS5

NTFS

FAT32

FAT16

FAT12

Operting System

Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows 2003 Server

Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows 2003 Server

DOS v7 and higher
Windows 98
Windows ME
Windows 2000
Windows XP

DOS
All versions of
Microsoft Windows

DOS
All versions of
Microsoft Windows

Limitations

Max Volume Size

2TB

2TB

32GB for all OS.
2TB for some OS

2GB for all OS.
4GB for some OS

16MB

Max Files on Volume

Nearly Unlimited

Nearly Unlimited

4194304

65536


Max File Size

Limit Only by
Volume Size

Limit Only by
Volume Size

4GB minus 2 Bytes

2GB (Limit Only
by Volume Size)

16MB (Limit Only
by Volume Size)

Max Clusters Number

Nearly Unlimited

Nearly Unlimited

4177918

65520

4080

Max File Name Length

Up to 255

Up to 255

Up to 255

Standard - 8.3
Extended - up to 255

Up to 254

File System Features

Unicode File Names

Unicode Character Set

Unicode Character Set

System Character Set

System Character Set

System Character Set

System Records Mirror

MFT Mirror File

MFT Mirror File

Second Copy of FAT

Second Copy of FAT

Second Copy of FAT

Boot Sector Location

First and Last Sectors

First and Last Sectors

First Sector and
Copy in Sector #6

First Sector

First Sector

File Attributes

Standard and Custom

Standard and Custom

Standard Set

Standard Set

Standard Set

Alternate Streams

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Compression

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Encryption

Yes

No

No

No

No

Object Permissions

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Disk Quotas

Yes

No

No

No

No

Sparse Files

Yes

No

No

No

No

Reparse Points

Yes

No

No

No

No

Volume Mount Points

Yes

No

No

No

No

Overall Performance

Built-In Security

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Recoverability

Yes

Yes

No

No

No

Performance

Low on small volumes
High on Large

Low on small volumes
High on Large

High on small volumes
Low on large

Highest on small volumes
Low on large

High

Disk Space Economy

Max

Max

Average

Minimal on large volumes

Max

Fault Tolerance

Max

Max

Minimal

Average

Average

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