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NTFS Vs FAT32 Vs ExFAT: Everything You Need To Know

In this article, we are going to learn more about file systems and also compare the two main file system choices, their compatibility, speed, etc.

NTFS Vs FAT32 Vs ExFAT – In this article, we will learn more about file systems and compare the two main file system choices, their compatibility, speed, etc.

What Is A File System?

A file system gives a way of organizing a drive. Not only that, but It also specifies how data is stored on a device and the kind of information that can be attached to the file.

Information such as filenames, permissions, and other attributes. 

However, Windows supports three different file systems. 

NTFS, FAT32, exFAT 

Windows uses NTFS for its system drive and non-removable drives. 

FAT32 is an older file system. However, it is not as efficient as NTFS but offers more excellent compatibility with other operating systems. 

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exFAT is a modern replacement for FAT32, and devices and operating systems support it more than NTFS

Why Are FAT32 And exFAT Used For External Devices?

FAT32 and exFAT work with nearly all operating systems. 

As written above, FAT (File Allocation Table) is the oldest of those file systems.

It has been existing since 1977 and was once used as a default file system for some old OS.

As time went on, drive capacity increased, and FAT was remade as FAT32, the last major revision and the only version in general use today.

Compatibility

exFAT was developed by Microsoft in 2006, mainly made for flash memory like SD cards and flash drives. 

In 2019, Microsoft published the specifications for the FS, making it no longer proprietary.

While exFAT was developed as a successor to FAT32.

No overhead internal disk systems presented like NTFS and removed some of the limitations of FAT32.

FAT32 vs. exFAT

Let’s compare FAT32 and exFAT in case you want to use one. 

Device Compatibility

NTFS Vs FAT32 Vs ExFAT

Due to FAT32 being the oldest, it works on any desktop operating system and video game consoles, Android and iPhone, and other devices.

exFAT works on most devices you use, but it may not be compatible with everything. 

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File Sizes Supported

FAT32 supports files up to 4GB in size. Additionally, it only works on partitions that are 8TB or under.

NTFS Vs FAT32 Vs ExFAT

exFAT has no logical limitations on file sizes or partition sizes. 

Its maximum file size is unlimited, and that’s why exFAT is the best choice for any portable drives that store large files and connect to different computers.

File System Speed

exFAT drives are faster at writing and reading data than FAT32 drives.

Should I Use FAT32 or exFAT?

When making this decision, consider the factors below.

  • Are your files larger than 4GB on this drive?
  • Do you want to use this drive with any devices that don’t support exFAT?

If your answer is No, go with FAT32 for compatibility purposes or format the drive as exFAT

How To Format A USB Drive As exFAT

For Windows

  • Open This PC in File Explorer.
  • Right-click on the USB drive. If you want to see the current file system first, 
  • Under the File system, choose exFAT or FAT32 as desired. Select Start when done.
NTFS Vs FAT32 Vs ExFAT

For macOS

  • Open Spotlight search with Cmd + Space and launch Disk Utility.
  • Select the USB drive from the menu on the left. 
    • You’ll see information about drive on In the main panel.
  • Click Erase from the top menu.
  • Choose exFAT or MS-DOS (FAT) in the list of options. 
  • Choose Erase when done.

Also read: How To Fix Unmountable Boot Volume In Windows 10

Bottom Line

Now you have read and understand the difference and compatibility between exFAT and FAT32 and know which one to use for your external drives.

Choose the one best for you.

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Image Credit: Makeuseof

Stella Taylor
Stella Taylor
Stella Temidayo Taylor is a staff writer for Novabach, she is a content writer with years of experience and has written for many websites on a different niche such as Entertainment, Politics, Lifestyle, Health, Business, Technology and well experienced in journalism.
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