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Tom AZ

NTFS vs FAT32

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My system drive and one of my external drives are both NTFS volumes. My other external is FAT32. Is there any compelling reason to convert the FAT 32 to NTFS?

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I guess that would depend on the size of the drive and what you plan to store on it. If you already have stuff on it I think the only way to change it would be to reformat it, wiping out everything on it.

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Interesting reading guys -- thanks for the info. I just saw this directly from Microsoft. If you can believe what you read here, it doesn't sound like the conversion should be a particularly big deal -- but I know how that often goes :o.

 

http://support.microsoft.com/kb/307881

 

By the way, my FAT32 external is a 1TB drive -- the other one is 2TB. I'll probably have to think long and hard before jumping into this one.

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Yeah, I'd suggest NTFS nowadays, depends a little bit for what you need & do with it.

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I suggest you avoid attempting to CONVERT from FAT32 to NTFS

Doing so should avoid loss of data, but causes sundry problems, including a non-optimum file cluster size.

Search for the word "permissions" at

http://kadaitcha.cx/xp/ntfs.html

This takes you to a section on defective security permissions that you will suffer,

and below this is a section on PERFORMANCE and lack thereof.

My only reservation is a bit of a typo in the sentence

In turn, this causes the conversion tool to use 512k clusters, which can potentially cause serious degradation in disk performance.

The author obviously meant half kilobyte and not half Megabyte as in "512k"

 

PRO AND CON - MY EXPERIENCE - Under XP Home on Laptop with 160 GB HDD.

 

I added a new partition into unused space once to often and ALL SEVEN PARTITIONS VANISHED.

System drive C:\ was no more - all I had were Boot Rescue CD's and an external drive with Partition Image backup files of all "Essential" partitions.

No panic because of the images, so I chose to exploit "disaster" and explore alternative remedies.

 

Partition Wizard was adding the new partition and it failed even though I followed instructions and closed all applications first.

What neither P.W. nor I anticipated was an Internet Gremlin provoking my Comodo Security software into action.

I now always block the Internet or use the P.W. Boot Rescue CD to do "heavy work" on partitions.

 

So - Ultimate disaster and a P.W. Boot CD that I had used before on a fully viable HDD.

 

I found the P.W. Boot CD included a "Partition Recovery Wizard" I previously had not noticed.

This brought back to life all four NTFS partitions and two "normal" FAT32 partions.

The super hidden "Acronis Secure Zone" FAT32 partition was attempted but after two attempts I gave it up because I never used it anyway.

 

First Boot was total no-no so I guessed that Acronis had "tweaked" the MBR and set its now absent Secure Zone as a vital part of booting up.

I used CD again with the simple option to "Repair MBR".

 

Second Boot attempt gave fully functional system and instant demand to run chkdsk on my corrupt and unusable 2 GB FAT32 partition H:\

Chkdsk fixed H:\ and reported hundreds of real problems it fixed or ignored.

 

I mounted an image backup file of H:\ and compared with "damaged" H:\ and could detect no discrepancies.

 

SURVIVABILITY.

All four NTFS partitions were fully functional, and the only complaint from chkdsk when I voluntarily ran it on them was something like

Cleaning up 21 unused index entries from index $SII of file 0x9.

Cleaning up 21 unused index entries from index $SDH of file 0x9.

Cleaning up 21 unused security descriptors.

Security descriptor verification completed.

Seen that before and it does not faze me.

 

The 60 GB FAT32 partition V:\ was not automatically objected to on startup,

but when I voluntarily ran Chkdsk there were many "significant" problems.

 

I had no backups of V:\ because that only held recent Backup images :rolleyes:

I did know this was vulnerable hence I copy all new image backup FILES to an external HDD for just this eventuality.

I then used Acronis to do its checksum computation validation of each image file and no errors were found,

so either chkdsk was able to effect repairs without data loss, or the "damaged" sectors were only those not used by these files.

 

SUMMARY

If your garden shed catches on fire, you can expect to rescue and use a steel garden roller, but not the plastic patio set,

and similarly you may "smell the smoke" on the contents of NTFS partitions, but FAT32 files may be scarred for life.

 

CONVERT from FAT32 to NTFS

I knew that performance was degraded if XP did the conversion so I tried the option in P.W.

It similarly gave loss of performance years ago at version 4.???.

I do not know well how the current version 7 does this.

 

I had no trust in the survivability of FAT32 so I chose to lose all data with a straight optimum NTFS format,

followed by copying all the files from the mounted image. No problem.

 

OTHER BENEFITS :-

The Void Tools "Everything" is infinitely better than Windows Search or any other file finding utility - but only on NTFS partitions.

Suddenly I could find in less than 2 seconds any file in H:\ which previously could take 2 minutes.

 

Some would say that being subject to NTFS permisions issues is an advantage - but I am for freedom and vote against that.

 

DISADVANTAGE :-

NTFS Restrictions.

H:\ is for Portable Tools / Utilities / Applications.

A few of these had shortcuts on the "All Users" desktop because my non-admin daughter either wanted to use them,

or I wanted her to use them (e.g. to run Portable CCleaner using a "CCleaner.INI to target her user profile)

The iron fist of NTFS restrictions put a total block under her authority on my script from setting up her tame CCleaner.ini

and instead it was aiming at all the "dangerous" Windows system locations which I always ANALYSE and THINK HARD before I clean.

 

I had to use CACLS to modify the NTFS Permissions of the folders (and contents) of what she needed to use.

This is definitely NOT a killer problem, but learning how to use CACLS is not easy.

Tell me one thing that is easy if you have to visit http://support.micro...com/kb/anywhere :)

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