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Laptop file systems - FAT32 vs NTFS

Posted on 2004-11-18
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Hi.

I recently purchased an Acer Travelmate Laptop which I'm very pleased with and it runs very well.

The hard disk is split into 3 partitons - ACER (FAT32) 27.49Gb, ACERDATA (FAT32) 9.77Gb and ACER_SERVIC (FAT) 8Mb.

I am puzzled as to why Acer would take it upon themselves to partion the disk as I would prefer to decide this for myself. Secondly, I am unsure of the purpose of the 8Mb FAT partion at the end? I assume this has some usage in resetting/recovering the machine, but why exactly is it there? Surely the recovery CD does everything anyway?

Even stranger though, as an IT Technician, I am aware of the advantages of the NTFS file system over the older FAT32 system. This being the case, can anyone explain or suggest why Acer would choose to ship the laptop with FAT32 and FAT file systems rather than the modern and preferable NTFS file system?

I appreciate that the drive(s) could be converted to NTFS using a command line utility, but would there be any possible implications of doing so and is it really worth it? Would I still be able to use the recovery disk? This page from Microsoft (http://www.microsoft.com/resources/documentation/windows/xp/all/proddocs/en-us/convert.mspx) states that "Volumes converted from FAT to NTFS lack some performance benefits compared to volumes initially formatted with NTFS" which, again, points me off.

I have sent an email inquiry to Acer support but I suspect that I will be fobbed off without a good answer. Somebody, somewhere must know why!

Any ideas or comments?

Josh.
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Question by:nicedreams
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by:rid
ID: 12616305
An 8 MB partition could be for machine specific diagnostics or BIOS extensions/settings that are not in CMOS (something like Compaq uses on some machines) and the FAT is probably the only file system that can handle a partition of that size.

FAT 32 vs NTFS is an ongoing discussion and I wouldn't rule out FAT 32 for an ordinary home user who cannot possibly use all the access rights settings available in NTFS, for example. There are a few threads here that signal great problems with  NTFS as well, where drives suddenly become inaccessible for odd reasons.

The ACERDATA partition, now; what's on it?

/RID
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Author Comment

by:nicedreams
ID: 12623122
Thanks for your comment, Rid.

The ACERDATA partition was completely empty, presumably ready to store the user's data. This is a bit daft though because, as you probably know, the default location for storage is under c:\Docs and Settings. I doubt the average user would think to change this and make use of the empty data partition.

The key thing I really want to know is why not use NTFS the recomended and default file sytem for XP Pro? It just seems very backward to be using FAT32.

I haven't had many responses to this particular question so I guess, either no one really knows or maybe, this topic area isn't viewed by so many experts.

Doesn't matter. It's not life threatening! I'm just very curious, especially as Acer themselves won't tell me!

Josh.
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by:rid
ID: 12623200
There are some advantages to NOT doing as MS dictates, as most viruses will go for standard solutions when looking for things on a computer. Not using Outlook Express and not keeping documents in the default place may be a good idea.

The data partition is also a matter of personal taste. I always create a secondary partition for data only, as I can  rebuild the O/S without having to touch the data. FAT 32 has the distinct advantage of being easily accessible after booting from a win9X floppy, which NTFS isn't. Very handy when your O/S breaks.

I can't say I know why ACER did this, but NTFS isn't without problems. A single-user machine may not benefit from an NTFS setup at all, but that is my opinion only.
/RID
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by:andymsmith18
ID: 12636229
hi nicedreams

the reason acer leaves the drives as fat32 is if it comes as ntfs you cant change it to fat32 but you can change fat32 to ntfs so they are giving you the option the 8mb partition is present on every hard drive on every computer its the partition info table don't mess with it, and acer splits the hard drives so you can save your date in case you have to run the recovery CD as every thing on the c drive is wiped during a recovery operation the reson thay split it is not every one knows how to change the partition size, if like me you have partition magic then you can set it up how you want, i like a small windows partition of say 4gb then the rest of the drive i use for all data and any programs i install and to keep an up to date backup of the c drive it makes it simple to reload windows with all my programs from the backup
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by:rid
ID: 12637058
".... the 8mb partition is present on every hard drive on every computer its the partition info table...."

Not true.
/RID
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by:andymsmith18
ID: 12639610
thanks for the heads up rid :-)
after checking around it looks like i was wrong on the 8mb partition it seams windows NT 2k and xp make this partition in case you want to go to a dynamic disk in stead of the basic disk all so as rid says some of the computer manufactures put diag and bios software in a hidden 8mb partition.
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rid earned 500 total points
ID: 12639966
"some of the computer manufactures put diag and bios software in a hidden 8mb partition."

Too right... :) Very confusing sometimes. And laptops with a special partition for saving RAM contents when hibernating...

In fact I think the partition table is part of the MBR - I should check on that. Sorry if I came across harsh.
Regards
/RID
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by:andymsmith18
andymsmith18 earned 500 total points
ID: 12640143
no harshness detected rid i am the same as you sometimes i just type and send quick comments when i know something is wrong :-)
its possible the partition has something to do with the mbr on my home setup i have 6 HDD 2 on ide the c drive has a 8mb partition but the d drive dose not. all the other drives on a raid controller card have the 8mb partition as well. they all got setup and partitioned by windows xp during install but i can only see them from a partition magic screen windows disk manager don't show them and no files are on them i may just remove the one on the c drive and see what happens if it goes wrong i have a image of c on another drive i just ghost over saves a lot of aggravation when testing. i will let you know how it goes
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