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Windows 7: NTFS or FAT32 with External Hard Drive?

24 Nov 2010   #1

Windows 7 Panasonic CF F9 (used to have CF F8)
NTFS or FAT32 with External Hard Drive?

Which is the better format for my external 2TB Hard Drive?

At the moment it is FAT32 and for some reason it won't allow me to place a Windows 7 System Image on it?

I have another drive - which is NTFS - which accepts everything.

OK - my question is, which is the better option? Should I reformat the 2TB FAT32 to NTFS?

I am backing up the usual office notes, pdfs, music, mp3, many .avi films, photos etc.

Any advice appreciated!!

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #2

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Decide yourself . Read the pros and cons of each of them .

NTFS vs. FAT: Which Is Right for You?
FAT32 or NTFS: Making the Choice
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #3

Windows 7 Panasonic CF F9 (used to have CF F8)

Yep im going for NTFS with the external hard drive cause it is consistent with the machine it is being copied from - which is NTFS.

* It seems that I can reformat the drive from FAT32 > NTFS without much of an issue - is that true? Anyone done that?

My System SpecsSystem Spec

24 Nov 2010   #4

Windows 8.1 Pro RTM x64

I would format it as NTFS as this will enable you to make the most efficient use of the disk capacity. True, you can format as FAT32, but you will be wasting a lot of disk space.

A FAT32 volume consists of 2^32 clusters (a cluster being the smallest unit on a disk). Depending on the size of the disk, a cluster can range from 4KB to 32KB or even 64KB. NTFS volumes, on the otherhand, maintain a cluster size of 4KB throughout.

Let's suppose that you have a 1KB file that you wish to save to the disk. With a FAT32 formatted disk with 32KB clusters, the wasted space is 32 - 1 = 31KB (remember that a cluster is the smallest unit on the disk that can be written to or read from). The same disk, formatted to NTFS with 4KB clusters, wastes just 3KB (4 - 1 = 3KB). This is a difference of 31 - 3 = 28KB on that single file alone, and, on a large HDD with many small files, this wasted space can add up to a significant amount.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #5

Windows 7 Panasonic CF F9 (used to have CF F8)

cool thanks for that - apparently it is simple for me to change from the existing FAT32 to NTFS - will existing date be wiped from the drive if I do this change?

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #6

Windows 8.1 Pro x64

As far as i am aware all data would be lost, i have used Download SwissKnife (free)

there maybe better ones out there but thats just what i know of.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #7

Windows 7 Ultimate x86

That's not true. You can change the format from FAT32 to NTFS without any data loss (as long as there is enough free space on that drive).
Only if you'd ever wanted to go back there wouldn't be a way of doing that without data loss (which means have a backup handy)

Make use of Brink's excellent tuts:
Convert FAT or FAT32 Volume to NTFS

Don't worry about the'll tell you if it's not enough. Much more important: Once it's started, leave it alone unless you want to create a very expensive paperweight ...mine looked like it was crashed half way through .

My 1TB drive which was filled to about 2/3 took ~4.5 minutes to convert

My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #8

Windows 7 Ultimate 64bit

The main reason to go to NTFS is for larger files support. Fat32 has a max file size limit of 4GB.
I didn't see this listed in either of the 2 articles posted above.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #9

Windows 7 Ultimate x64

The reason you cannot store a Windows 7 image on the FAT32 drive is because it has a max file size limit of 4GB. You have to use NTFS if you want a single file over 4GB in size.

Edit: Whoops, not sure how I didn't see the person above me who posted this already.
My System SpecsSystem Spec
24 Nov 2010   #10

Windows 7 x64 Ultimate

Windows 7 Also makes judicious use of hardlinks, compression, permissions and tons of other NTFS features which fat simply doesn't have :)
My System SpecsSystem Spec

 NTFS or FAT32 with External Hard Drive?

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