Various file systems available on Windows

Planning to install Windows on your system? Do you know what file systems does Windows support? If not, then are in the right page. This page provides you a brief description about the various file systems that are supported by Windows. Before going to the details about types of the Windows file systems, first know about this file system.

What is a File system?

File system is a method or way of storing and organising files on your storage media to facilitate easy retrieval of files. each of the physical storage media whether it is memory cards, SD cards, thumb drives, hard drives or any other storage device all of them will have a file system for maintaining data in a structured way. In Windows users will be presented with several choices of file systems. These file systems depend on your storage media type and OS version being installed.

Windows file System

Microsoft Windows OS use two major file systems: FAT that was inherited from old DOS and came up with its later extensions as FAT16, FAT32, ExFAT; widely-used NTFS file systems. Recently released one is ReFS file system was developed by Microsoft for Windows 8 Servers as a new generation file system.

FAT (File Allocation Table)

The FAT (short for File Allocation Table) file system is a general purpose file system that is compatible not only with Windows but also with all major operating systems including Mac OS X, and Linux / Unix. It was the default file system for all your Windows operating systems earlier to Windows 2000. It consists of file system descriptor sector (boot sector or superblock), file system block allocation table (referenced as File Allocation Table) and also a plain storage space that can store all your files and folders. Files on FAT are stored in directories. Based on the number of bits used to enumerate your file system blo9ck, FAT can be identified as FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 etc.

Older versions of the FAT file system (FAT12 and FAT16) had file name length limits this is commonly referred to as the 8.3 filename limit. VFAT, which was an extension to FAT12 and FAT16 introduced in Windows NT 3.5 and subsequently included in Windows 95, allowed long file names (LFN). The number indicates the number of bits. FAT12 was earlier used for old floppy disks. FAT16 and FAT32 are widely used for flash memory cards and USB flash sticks. Even the mobile phones, digital cameras and other portable devices also supported by FAT 32.

Due to its overly simplistic structure, FAT has some issues like file corruption, over-fragmentation, and limits to file names and size.

NTFS (New Technology file system):

NTFS is a file system type commonly used for Windows OS. It is the default file system for disk partitions and it is the only file system that support disk partitions over 32GB. It is a well formed, modern and standard file system that is most commonly used for Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 7. This NTFS is quite extensible and provides many properties like including access control, encryption etc. the first and last sectors of the file systems contains the boot sector or super block, i.e. the file system settings. This file system uses 48 and 64 bit values to reference files, thus supporting quite large disk storages.

NTFS has feature-rich, yet simple organization that allows it to be used on very large volumes. It also provides numerous improvements over the FAT file system that includes better disk utilization and better security.

NTFS has the following properties:

  • NTFS partitions can extend up to 16EB (about 16 million TB).
  • NTFS partitions sometimes become fragmented and must be defragmented regularly
  • Files stored to NTFS partitions can be as large as the partition.

ReFS (Resilient File System):

ReFS is the latest release of Microsoft which presently available for Windows 8 Servers. The architecture of this file system is different from the other Windows file system architecture. Actually ReFS is mainly organized in form of B+-tree. It offers high failure tolerance due to new features included into the system.

One of the best features of ReFS is Copy-on-Write (CoW) in which without copying the data, you cannot modify your metadata. It does not allow writing of data over the existing ones and it just writes into a new disk space. Whenever you modify a file, a new copy of metadata will be created on any free storage space. After which the system creates a link from the older metadata to this newly created metadata. As a result, your system stores all your older backups in different locations that ensure easy and faster recovery of files in case of data loss.

Above explained are the file systems that are available on Windows. Among all these NTFS is the most widely used file system.  Based on your need, you can choose one among them. All these file systems focuses mainly on data security and recovery options. Even with these features a sudden hard drive crash or a simple virus leading to file system corruption could land you in data loss situations. You might have stored your vital files on it; all will be lost within a second. Don’t worry; fortunately you have Remo Recover Windows software, using which all your data can be recovered easily. Even if it your FAT, NTFS or ReFS, this program supports all these file systems. Deleted NTFS partition recovery can be done in just few clicks with Remo Partition recovery tool. However, it’s important to be cautious while working with your files and carefully chose the file system according to the OS versions and even the media type on which you are installing.

Various file systems available on Windows was last modified: March 29th, 2021 by Tony Landry

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