What is FAT32?

Posted On 2010-12-18 by FortyPoundHead
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Tags: Tutorial General Windows Windows 7 Windows XP
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FAT32 is the file system utilized in some of the older versions of Microsoft Windows. It was introduced with OEM Service Release 2 of Windows 95 (also known as OSR2 and Windows 95B). FAT32 is the default file system on Windows 98 (all versions: OEM, retail, and SE) and Windows Me.

You can install the FAT32 file system on Windows 2000 (Server and Professional only; Advanced Server and Data Center do not support FAT32), Windows XP (all versions), and even Windows Server 2003, Vista, and Windows 7. However, for all operating systems capable of it, both UITS and Microsoft strongly recommend using NTFS instead.

Advantages of FAT32

  • FAT32 supports disk partitions as large as two terabytes. FAT16 supports partitions up to only 2GB.
  • FAT32 wastes much less disk space on large partitions, since the minimum cluster size remains a mere 4KB for partitions under 8GB.

Disadvantages of FAT32
  • FAT32 does not allow compression using DriveSpace.
  • FAT32 is not compatible with older disk management software, motherboards, and BIOSes.
  • FAT32 may be slightly slower than FAT16, depending on disk size.
  • None of the FAT file systems provide the file security, compression, fault tolerance, or crash recovery abilities that NTFS does.


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