Thursday, September 21, 2006

Windows XP: Windows File Systems

Windows XP supports several different file system, from FAT16 which was used by MS-DOS to NTFS which was first available as part of Windows NT. FAT16 only supports the most basic features, such as short file names (i.e.: FILENAME.EXT), and a maximum file partition size of 2GB. FAT32 was Microsoft's next file system to address the need for larger hard drive support, and added support for longer file names (255 characters).

Then when Windows NT (I believe it was version 3.51) was released, NTFS was made available. NTFS is the most secure, feature rich, and fault tolerant file system Microsoft has ever created. It can support a partition size up 2 terabytes, and also supports long file names.
  • FAT16: Used primarily with Windows 3.1 and earlier versions of MS-DOS. This file system type is also used by most USB flash drives for storing files. FAT16 can not read or write files on FAT32 and NTFS formatted partition.
    • Maximum
      • Partition size: 2GB
      • File name length: 8.3 characters (i.e.: FILENAME.EXT)
  • FAT32: Used by Windows 95, 98, and ME primarily. FAT32 can not read or write files in an NTFS formatted partition, but is backwards compatible with FAT16.
    • Maximum
      • Partition size: 32GB
      • File name length: 255 characters
  • NTFS: Used by the NT based versions of Windows, including NT, 2000, XP, and 2003.
    • Maximum
      • Partition size: 2TB
      • File name length: 255 characters
      • additional features: file/directory security, fault tolerant, disk quotas, encryption, and more.

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