exFAT vs. NTFS vs. FAT32


When we format a hard drive (internal or external), whether it is a USB drive or an SD card, we can usually choose different file systems. In Windows, we usually see three options: ntfs, Fat32And exFAT,

Therefore, in this article, we will explain each of them in detail and tell which one will be best depending on the device you will be formatting.

Before we begin, we should clarify what a file system is. Basically, it provides a way to organize files within a storage device and what information can be associated with those files, such as permissions, file types, and other attributes.

NTFS is mostly used by hard drives and SSDs, while FAT, FAT32, and exFAT are used in USB drives and SD cards.

NTFS (New Technology File System) is the file system that Windows uses by default and is used for hard disks and SSD drives.

Windows can only be installed on a unit with this system, so if you read it from Windows, your computer uses this file system. There are many reasons to use this file system for a computer.

Among them we find:

  • Its file size limit is 16 TB, and the volumes can reach up to 264 TB each. This is good for computers, where we can keep dozens of large files, so it is not a concern as the largest hard drive has 18 TB of storage and 60 TB SSD.
  • You can configure access permissions to a file (important for the operating system).
  • It also allows us to encrypt the files.
  • It also allows for longer file names.
  • If the computer crashes, it recovers from errors more easily.
  • On the Mac operating system, NTFS can be read but cannot be written. If you use both platforms, NTFS is not the best choice. Sony consoles, PS3 and PS4, cannot write but can read. Of course, tech giant Microsoft’s famous gaming console, Xbox 360 could not read it, but Xbox One could.

This file system is one of the oldest systems still in use today, and is typically included by default on USB storage to maximize compatibility.

Because it is very old (it was introduced in 1930) windows 95 in 1995), its compatibility with all operating systems is very wide. It can be used Windows, Linux (And Android), Mac OS, and devices such as televisions or consoles.

One of its drawbacks is that the size of the files cannot exceed 4 GB (or partitions of 8 TB), which is inconvenient in some action cameras in which the videos are cut or if we want to pass a movie on a USB stick. Therefore, the famous exFAT system was created.

This file system is the most recent and dates back ten years since it was released in Windows Vista (with a compatible version for XP). Although it has taken a few years to become widely used, it is currently the best option memory Stick,

The most important reason is that exFAT overcomes all the limitations of the FAT32 system, so you can copy files larger than 4 GB.

However, the most interesting thing about this new system is that it has a file size limit 16 exabytes, which is equivalent to 16 million terabytes,

Compared to the NTFS system, it has advantages such as being lighter without all the extra features offered by NTFS. In addition, MacOS allows writing and reading in this format, while NTFS only allows reading.

In Linux, it can be used with appropriate software, and in Android, it can be used to read and write SD cards and USB sticks. OTGIn the console, the most recent Playstation 4 And Xbox one Support them.

If our camera or mobile phone is compatible and is in USB memory, it is most advisable to use ExFAT in the SD card. However, some devices cannot read this file system, so if we plug the USB stick into an older computer, it is better to ensure compatibility with FAT32.

Other file systems are ext4, used in Linux and, therefore, also in Android. The advantage of this storage system is the famous “journaling”, which allows better data integrity by not modifying files in real time but by pointing to and serializing them before they are realized.

Mac OS uses its own file system, called MFS, or Macintosh File System. iOS 13 And with macOS 10.12.4, Apple has introduced APFS (Apple File System), which will unify the file system between all the tech giant Apple’s operating systems: macOS, iOS, tvOS and watchOS, with the great benefits of latency and encryption.

In short, the NTFS system is the best choice for external and internal disks, SSD drives, USB drives and SD cards. If we are going to use it on a device with compatibility problems it is best to use FAT32 or if we need to copy files larger than 4 GB to a modern device, such as HD movies, it is best to use exFAT.


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