File Allocation Table (FAT) is an area on the floppy disk or hard disk containing information of every file stored and unallocated spaces on the disk and was first developed for MS-DOS. It was introduced in 1977.
Most of the PC operating systems support the FAT file system; hence, external devices like memory cards, SD cards, pen drives, etc., support the FAT file system.
FAT12 is the oldest type of FAT file system. FAT12 indicates that the size of each entry in the file allocation table of a disk is 12 bits. FAT12 is therefore suitable for small volumes (floppy disk) having a size of 16MB or less. It has a cluster size ranging from 0.5KB to 4 KB.
The size of the FAT determines the number of clusters the disk volume can contain. FAT12 can store 4086 clusters (212 - few clusters, approx). Floppy disks have a FAT12 file system. The hierarchy from top level to bottom is as follows:
Disk → Partition (one or more) → Clusters (one or more) → Sectors (one or more, depending on size)
The entry provides the number of the next cluster. FAT is something like a table of contents in a book. If the file allocation table is lost or damaged, then reading the disk becomes a problem.
We assume that the disk is one big partition and our file system takes up the whole partition. But that doesn't work like that. In FAT12, we need a section that informs us about the free space so that the new data can be stored.
This allows for efficient storage and management of data within the file system. The FAT12 file system utilizes this partitioning and allocation approach to organize and access data on the storage media.
In order to overcome the limitations of the previous FAT file systems, FAT16 , and FAT32 were created. With the FAT32 file system, you can format external drives or your computer's hard disk as well as partitions. Due to accidental formatting data from logical drives can be lost. To recover the FAT32 partition or external disk drive, use the best recovery utility.
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