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New computer NTFS vs FAT32

by Lonestar / April 1, 2005 6:44 PM PST

I just bought a new computer with a sata HDD. It installed with NTFS. Which is faster, FAT32 or NTFS?

I used partition magic to convert back to FAT32, it seems faster, but the girl i purchased the computer from say it isn't.

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Here is what I read:
by Critter_97 / April 5, 2005 12:16 PM PDT

I read that when there is not a lot of data on the drive FAT32 will be faster because the data is in smaller bits which the computer can easily assemble. Later as you have more data for the computer to assimilate in a program NTFS will be faster because more data is held in each data file on the hard drive so it will take less time to assemble what the program is asking for. NTFS is supposed to be a more stable file system.

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by wukong / April 5, 2005 8:39 PM PDT

may not be faster, but is a more advanced file system that has more features and reliability. some applications also requires NTFS patitions.

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by damasta55r / April 8, 2005 1:58 PM PDT
In reply to: NTFS

FAT 32 is mainly used by windows files.

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ntfs/ fat32
by dvautier / May 3, 2005 8:11 AM PDT
In reply to: NTFS

My system disk is still fat32, mostly because I?m too chicken to convert it. My work disk where I do all my audio and video stuff is NTFS because the files are really big.

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Your call
by adkmom / April 12, 2005 11:41 PM PDT

FAT32 is faster for gaming & more compatible with other operating systems, like Linux.

XP was designed to run on it's native NTFS- but as you see, it can run on either.

I suppose you could load it both ways, run benchmarks, & compare the outcome? Doing this, on your own machine, would really be the only way to know for certain.


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by Lucio / April 21, 2005 8:51 PM PDT

Furthermore, FAT32 has a limit of 4 GB for unique file.
NTFS can manage beyond that limit: I recorded files bigger than 18 GB....

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I don't know, but......
by rainpohl / April 21, 2005 8:59 PM PDT

I only know NTFS from Windows 2000pro and XP and they are both soooooooooo sloooooooow.....
If you want a FAST and VERY STABLE OS use 98s.ed.eng. and then get rid of I.E.
I use the Litepc solution but ther are others for free!

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(NT) Not a straight foward answer
by ParnaoidGuy / April 21, 2005 10:37 PM PDT

NTFS is a far superior file system.

Reason 1

It fragments far less than fat32

Reason 2

fat 32 has a limit of a 4 gb file and a theoretical limit of 32GB for the drive. Thats not the actual limit, but its the largest size you should go o maintain a samll cluster.

Reason 3

NTFS is used by windows to lock down access to critical system files so that you are safer from malware, spyware, and brain cramps.

(Remeber to run the security config and analysis tool after you change back to NTFS)

Reason 4

Fat 32 is old hat. I have unique oportunities to test things and I did a hard power off test on two identicle machines, one with fat32 one with NTFS. I would start them compiling a huge RAR file or running a video, or some sustained activity and them turn off the power strip.

After four power offs, the fat32 system was a mess. Boot issues, programs messed up, and some files lost.

After 15 power offs the NTFS system was rock solid.

Fat32 is not useful except for certain specific aplications and roll out tasks.

so do yourself a favor and go to the run line and type convert c: /fs:ntfs and answer yes to all the prompts and reboot.

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Impressive Answer
by davekhera / April 26, 2005 1:48 AM PDT

These kinds of answers help the site as well as the audience. Great answer!

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ParnaoidGuy / Anyone else are you there?
by Myster Meaner / November 9, 2005 4:03 AM PST


ParnaoidGuy you seem to know the things that I need to know. I just upgraded my system to a ASUS A8N-SLI, with an AMD 3000+ Venice Core CPU, 512 MB Ram, 450W ATA Switching PSU, 16X PCIex GeForce 6600 Vid card,with a 100 GB Maxtor SATA drive. I installed XP Pro x64 Edition. It dosen't give the option to install it on a FAT32 format so I am stuck with NTFS. But after reading your input on NTFS I think it is a good thing, right? The only thing I need to know is can you "GAME" with it?

Also, I think I have a few hardware issues to work out as well. For instance the bios sees the drive but in "boot options" I have to set it as a CD for it to Boot. What is the reason for this. Also sometimes it isn't seen by the PC and sometimes it is.


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NTFS vs. FAT32
by biggredd / April 22, 2005 2:05 AM PDT

The real issue is not which file system is faster but which system gives you more "bang for your buck."
NTFS is truly the way to go. It has security, long file name support, backwards compatability, ability to use spaces, multiple periods, etc.
Oh, NTFS supports FAT32!

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NTFS better, but...
by kal9000 / April 22, 2005 2:16 AM PDT

NTFS is better, faster and safer.
Only make sure that you use it on newer hardware (SATA drive is one), and newer software (WinXP SP2).
FAT 32 is ok (not if you foresee having files bigger than 4GB), and most people that still use startup floppies will stick with it (FAT32), for compatibility and ease of use in case they have to deal with their PC outside of the Windows environment. Having said that, please note that there is a lot of software today that can see, partition and format NTFS drives outside of Windows (i.e. in DOS).

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Fat 32
by Titmouse711 / April 22, 2005 2:28 AM PDT

Use Fat 32. Got 2 PC's both XPpro. One is NTFS,
the other is Fat 32. The one with Fat 32 is faster
even with a slower CPU!

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You are lucky
by rafferdy / April 23, 2005 1:16 PM PDT
In reply to: Fat 32

I've tried both routes and found that after a while the fat partion will inevitably bog down. Go with fat if You still are running some older games although, even these can be run using the compatibility wiz in xp.
I also find that the nfts partition doesn't need to be defragged as often.

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"Normal" Home User - Go NTFS
by larryb / April 22, 2005 3:33 AM PDT

I have a tri-boot system (win98, XpHome[Fat32} & XpHome{NTFS). My NTFS o/s will take a beating as described in an earlier post & I've found it to be more secure, etc. I use the FAT32 so I can edit, delete (etc) files in DOS (DOS does not "see" NTFS). So unless you need "REAL DOS" or use DOS programs - I highly recommend NTFS.
The compatibility issues that existed when Win2k (NTFS) came out, are pretty much non-exixtant these days, & there's no noticable difference in speed.

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It Depends!
by jjprzy / April 22, 2005 10:46 AM PDT

There's no clearcut answer. FAT32 can be faster than NTFS (and vice versa). It really all boils down to cluster size.

Typically, NTFS cluster sizes are smaller than FAT32 cluster sizes (but not always). The smaller the cluster size, the less wasted space on a hard drive. For example, if your cluster size is 16KB, then a 2KB file uses 16KB (2KB for the file, and 14KB that are wasted). If your cluster size is 2KB, and your file size is 2KB, then there is no wasted space. If your file size is 16KB and your cluster size is 2KB, then the file needs 8 clusters.... all of which are filled 100% (no wasted space).

But space utilization on a hard drive does not correlate to speed. In fact, the smaller your cluster size and the better your space utilization.... the worse it is for your speed. Consider the following example:

You have a file that is 512KB. In a system where your cluster size of 16KB, the computer has to find and access 32 clusters in order to obtain the entire file. In a system where your cluster size is 2KB, the computer has to find and access 256 clusters in order to obtain the entire file. There is no doubt that finding 256 clusters takes a longer time than finding 32 clusters, all other things being equal (i.e., RPM of the hard drive, number of heads & cylinders, etc).

You have to decide which is more important for you... speed or space. If you want good space utilization, speed will suffer. If you want good speed, space utilization will suffer.

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FAT32 and NTFS It depends on how you use it.
by vecsoto / April 28, 2005 6:57 PM PDT
In reply to: It Depends!

if your purpose is to utilize space for clean installation use FAT32, since using disk utilities to boot or format DOS (not propriety MS-DOS) cannot see files if NTFS is the format. For security NTFS is better. I think there is no ideal standars oherwise there will be monopoly in software and no morer choices, no more improvements, no more options.

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by Titmouse712 / April 30, 2005 12:57 PM PDT

FAT32.... SYSTEM will boot from floppy after a crash.
NTFS.... SYSTEM will not boot after a crash.
Other than that, and backward compatibility, NTFS
is more modern? So they say.

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NTFS verses FAT32
by bigmoe / May 1, 2005 1:39 AM PDT
In reply to: NTFS

Part of your problems with speed deals with the OS itself.
XP is a memory hog.
WinNT4, Win2K, XP Pro is NT4, NT5 & NT5.1
Win95, Win98 & SE, ME all use the Windows95 kernal Including XP Home.

XP - both Pro and Home are Memory Hogs. They take a lot of ram to make them work properly.

What does memory have to do with speed and NTFS vs FAT32?
I am not sure.
NTFS = New Technology Filing System

What I do know is that if you decide to add a Slave drive and your OS is NTFS, NTFS will not recognize the FAT32/16 drive. And visa versa.

So, you need to know what you are going to do down the road later on, because it can make your life a happy one or a miserable one!

As for Speed, if you stick with the NT OSes, for the most part, they'll run just about anything you give it in FAT32 or NTFS. Myself I prefer NT4 & NT5 & Win98SE. And all using FAT32.
Also what wasn't addressed here was size of drive verses speed. Smaller drives run faster than large 100gig drives.
I have about 10 PC's ranging from a DX4-120Mhz to a 933Mhz P3 - I play a lot and I know how to get speed out of something small.
I also have 4 Mac's and have played some with them also. The fastest OS in Mac is surprisingly OS7.1.1

As for straight out speed, I have not ever seen a real huge difference between NTFS and FAT32. Although some games will not work right with NTFS.

Have you ever noticed that a brand name computer sells with the minimum amount of ram. Ever notice that XP comes with 512mb?
Win95 runs its' best with 64mb - hummmmm!

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NTFS vs Fat32
by Titmouse712 / May 11, 2005 1:15 PM PDT
In reply to: NTFS verses FAT32

I use Fat32 on my PC's too.

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fat32 and NTFS
by dvautier / October 14, 2005 11:56 AM PDT

I converted. no problems. some software runs slower but the compression is much better.

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by Medryn / November 9, 2005 7:50 AM PST

NTFS is far better than Fat32 for Windows XP, heres why...

NTFS is much faster in locating files because of its B-tree structure, it provides faster loads and searches

You drive will perform searches faster
Your drive will load programs and information quicker
Your drive will be more reliable
Your drive will be less vulnerable to fragmentation
Your drive will only allow ABOVE 4 GB files
Your drive will allow partitions ABOVE 127 GB

Your files will be more secure, and allow user and account permissions

File compression and encryption. Third-party tools are not required

A local hard drive can be mounted to a folder on an NTFS volume

Supports RAID

The size of the Master File Table (MFT) and its location are optimised based on the hard drive characteristics.

ChkDsk is MUCH quicker on NTFS

NTFS updates changes to files MUCH quicker and therefore is less likely to gain file corruption on unexpected power loss

File Table takes up less hard drive space than Fat32

If you don't agree or believe me I'm not just stating my opinion, these are all techincal backed facts about the NTFS file system, and the reason for which it was created and impoved upon. If you want the exact tech specs (thinking you could understand them) for why any of these are true post back and I'll let you know...

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That's about it
by PKsteven / November 12, 2005 4:31 AM PST

I have a hard drive with FAT32 running xp pro on my kid's pc. He did his first install and did this instead of ntfs. Well, it works alright but it seems to have many video errors, hd errors and others. So when I say it works alright, well it runs. It is slower also. He has two 30 gig hard drives, one is mirrored in ntfs from the fat32, he has no problems though on the ntfs. So the drive with FAT32 is creating many problems,albiet solvable ones. So anyway instead of writing 15 paragraphs as to why ntfs is better, it pretty much begins from what you posted here and branches out to all sorts of little problems.

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