Overview of FAT and NTFS File Systems

File systems have changed a lot in the recent times. The information systems are crucial for the management of huge loads of files the companies need dealing with year on year basis. Till now, the only way was to allot certain space within the resource pool to serve the purpose of storing unused files, but the introduction of better ways has changed the situation certainly. The rampant use of clouds and secondary and tertiary file storage systems is seen around. Some file archiving solutions have introduced newer and better versions such as version (v 3.460) of ArchiverFS and these have known to perform well in terms of productivity and performance.

FAT and NTFS file systems – What are these?

Windows file servers are now empowered with more time-relevant file management solutions. Two of such solutions are FAT and NTFS. Here is a detailed overview of what these file systems are.

  • FAT overview

FAT or file allocation table is the most simplistic way of managing files and it is well supported by Windows NT. The FAT is actually a table that resides on the top of the volume and for its better protection, two copies are kept. Also, the FAT tables are kept in a fixed location along with the root directory to ensure that searching the boot files does not prove too difficult a task.

FAT containing disks is divided into clusters. The entry in the FAT shows the last cluster and also indicates the next cluster. The size of the cluster is determined by the size of the volume. Thus, for better synchronization, FAT needs updating on a regular basis.

FAT is designed to support archive file attributes and, in addition, supports read-only, system and hidden files. This is therefore, the most prevalent way of managing archived files. Some archiving solutions are combining file systems with no proprietary storage mechanisms and offering a fool-proof way of using FATs.

Convention for naming FAT

FAT uses 8.3 file naming convention and can easily be recognized by file names – AUX, COM1, COM2, COM3, COM4, PRN, LPT1, LPT2, LPT3, NUL.

How FAT is useful

FAT is offering the facility of un-deleting the files, a feature which was not available in Windows NT. The file stored in FAT partition can be undeleted when the system is restarted under MS-DOS. This file system does come with very little cost but is the best suited for drives or partitions approximately under 200MB.

Limitations of FAT

FAT does not perform well when the drive size is over 200MB. It is not possible to set permissions in the FAT system, thus, people may not find it suitable to use in environments where access rights are a matter of discretion.

  • NTFS Overview

NTFS is unique in the sense that it does not require hardware like 512 byte sectors to perform. There are no special locations set on the drive, like tables in case of FAT. NTFS aims to provide enhanced reliability essential for high end systems or file servers. It supports POSIX needs and comes with the convenience of added functionality. NTFS can rightly be called an enhancement over FAT as this file system has eliminated the limitations latter comes with.

NTFS is designed to address three issues – recoverability, hot fixing and removal of fatal single sector failure. This file system keeps track of the transactions happening in the file system.  CHKDSK command allows tracking the transactions back to the point touched last as logs of transactions are maintained in NTFS. Thus, recoverability becomes easier with NTFS.

Like other newer file management solutions, NTFS allows fixing the errors without putting the systems off, i.e. it promotes hot fixing.

NTFS tracks and protects all the objects on the disk. Additionally, it does not use special object on the disk. So, the possibility of crashing of a single sector carrying the special object is drastically reduced. NTFS also maintains master file table of all the items stored. In fact, these tables are saved in multiple copies. Thus, a factor of redundancy is introduced in the file storage mechanism this way.

NTFS is designed to provide added functionality to the systems. The platform can be added and built upon, and thus, enriches the file storage functionality of the machine. This supports multiple data streams and thus, the users can save various types of files in single environment. It also offers the users the flexibility to use the attributes defined by them.

How NTFS has removed file storage limitations

NTFS utilizes the positive features of FAT to deliver better file storage solution. The capacity has increased to storing 16 exabytes of data as this system has effectively increased the size and volume of the files. In NTFS, the clusters are defined as multiples of the hardware’s allocation size. Thus, the limitation of 512 bytes per sector has been eliminated and the data storage capacity is fairly increased.

NTFS accepts both Unicode 8.3 and long file name conventions in naming the files and offers ease of identification and locating the files.

Advantage of NTFS

It is a high duty file storage system that is best used for drives more than 400MB in volume. So, even at 200 MB and more, the performance will continue to be the best.

Disadvantage of NTFS

The disadvantage lies in the fact that this system is worth using for 400MN drive size and above only. When implemented for smaller drive sizes of 200MB and below, the overhead cost poses to be the pain.

To conclude,

Archiving solution providers need dependable file storage solutions so that they can serve the client needs effectively. The use of clouds has certainly affected the structure of file storage systems and developers are working constantly in the direction of improving their accessibility and storage capacity. Currently, both FAT and NTFS have their own user bases, and both are serving the file storage needs to the best of the capacity. While small drives find FAT good, the bigger ones need robustness and flexibility of RTFS to ensure better performance and deliverability. Visit here for more information.