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File System

Posted on 2004-08-17
Medium Priority
Last Modified: 2010-04-26
I need some suggestions, i have a 1.5 Ghz P4 Desktop with 768 RD RAM NON ECC PC 800 and a 40 GB 5200 RPM harddrive. I need to know Which one is better for me NTFS or FAT 32. Iam using NTFS right now. And if fat 32 is better how do i change it cause i remember you were supposed to go to Start, Programs, Accessories, and then System Tools. Iam using Windows XP Pro and i never host any servers or networks. I want the best performace possible and explain to me the benefits and negatives of these 2 diffrent file system.
Thank You
Question by:big_wilma5
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Accepted Solution

jarich earned 100 total points
ID: 11819387
You should be able to learn all you want to know at;
LVL 31

Assisted Solution

rid earned 100 total points
ID: 11819420
1) I don't think you can convert FROM NTFS to FAT32, only the other way around.

2) There are a few threads here that deal with NTFS file system quirks (or bugs as ome prefer to put it) and generally I don't recommend NTFS for a home computer, as you have lots more problems if you have a logical crash of some kind. For your case, however, a switch to FAT32 will probably include either a total rebuild from fdisk and format or the application of a third party file system tool  - in which case you should proceed with the utmost care and prepare for disaster. Actually the choice between third party and rebuild is a toss up, IMHO - I'd prefer a clean start anyday.

Assisted Solution

AshuraKnight earned 100 total points
ID: 11819732
Convert to NTFS: (and not vice versa :P)

# You can use the convert command (Convert.exe) to convert an existing FAT volume or FAT32 volume to NTFS. Because this conversion retains all your files (unlike a format operation), use Convert.exe when you want to keep existing files on your volumes intact.
# The conversion to NTFS is a one-way process. After you convert a drive or a partition to NTFS, you cannot convert it back to FAT or to FAT32. To restore the volume to the previous file system, you must reformat it as FAT or as FAT32. This action erases all existing data including your programs and personal files. In this case, you must either restore your data from a backup, or reinstall your operating system and programs.

One thing.
You need to use FAT32 if you plan to use your HDD for more than 1 system.
(for transfer purpose maybe). Because FAT32 is more compatible with any computer.
Well I got my lesson when I try to plug in my NTFS HDD into my friend comp and take it back then realize that my files isn't recognized anymore !
My NTFS HDD suddenly changed into FAT32 by itself.
Strange eh ? But it does happened -.-

Gd luck with your choice :)
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Assisted Solution

chuckrox earned 100 total points
ID: 11826542
For FAT32 vs NTFS I'd ask what's most important to you, security or ease of recovery+performance? Using a Win98 bootdisk you can pretty easily recover files from a botched OS in FAT32 (which is why I stick with FAT32). Going NTFS takes just a little more CPU than FAT32 but you have the advantage of better security; however, if your OS ever crashes you're gonna have a harder time recovering the files. You say you want performance, so I'd reccomend FAT32. But if you've already installed XP NTFS then you're gonna have to buy something like Partition Magic to convert the drive to FAT32 or start clean, wipe and reinstall.

Assisted Solution

JamieHurst earned 100 total points
ID: 11853621
To convert NTFS back to FAT32, you will need a Partion Manager like Partition Commander or Partition Magic, these are capable of converting NTFS to FAT32 without any loss of data.

Although, personally, I would stick with NTFS as it is a more reliable and faster-accessed file system. Also, for a 40GB hard drive you would have to partion your drive into two sections because FAT32 cannot handle 40GB.

Expert Comment

ID: 11853644
By the way, to add to above,
The family computer (two years old) has an 80GB hard drive with the NTFS file system and I have never had a single problem with it.
LVL 31

Expert Comment

ID: 11854854
FAT 32 can handle drives/partitions > 32 MB. There's a bug in winXP fdisk that breaks it, though.

Expert Comment

ID: 11858193
Yeah, that bug makes it so that you can temporarily partition the hard drive as one 40GB partition and then convert it all to NTFS later, basically.

I'm not sure why, but Microsoft really screwed up this part. I've heard stories of many people whose hard drive's have completely crashed because of MBR errors, all because of XP's FDISK.

Expert Comment

ID: 11864097
Short answer:

if your hard drive is above 32GB in size use NTFS, otherwise use FAT32 for drives under 32GB.  By the way you can convert your drive back to FAT32 that seems to me to be a bit of a myth.  

If the HDD you are using is a slave drive then it will be straight forward for you to do if you get a win98 bootdisk from www.bootdisk.com 

Create a floppy from the bootdisk program that you download and run FDISK from the a: prompt.  Do dir to make sure you are working with the correct drive before you do anything on it.  Backup your file sto another drive if needs be.

When you use FDISK you will not be informed of any existing partitions if they are using NTFS already.   However if you go to the option to delete non fat32 <-I think partitions or non windows partions then it will show you partitions that are labelled as NTFS.  You can delete them there and create new FAT32 ones.

Above is just  a guide but if it was me I would use New Technology File System( NTFS) over FAT32.  

Good Luck pjcrooks2000
LVL 31

Expert Comment

ID: 11865237
Of course, you can convert the disk from NTFS to FAT 32, but you'll have to save your data first, as they'll be lost in the process... (fdisk, format)

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