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File Systems

You can use FAT16, FAT32, NTFS, or a combination of file systems on a single computer, but each volume can have only one file system installed. When choosing which file system to use, you need to determine the following:

  • How the computer is used (dedicated to Windows 2000 or multiple-boot).

  • The number and size of locally installed hard disks.

  • Security considerations.

  • Interest in using advanced file system features.

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Important

It is recommended that you format all Windows 2000 volumes with NTFS except on computers with certain multiple-boot configurations. For more information about NTFS, see NTFS File System later in this chapter.

Certain file systems have limitations regarding the minimum and maximum size of volumes that they can format. Additionally, the cluster size of each file system, which depends on the size of the volume and the maximum number of clusters the file system can manage, can affect the choice of file systems.

Table 17.2 provides a comparison of FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS volume and cluster sizes.

Table 17.2 Default Cluster Sizes for Volumes with Windows 2000 File Systems

Volume size

FAT16 cluster size

FAT32 cluster size

NTFS cluster size

7 MB–16 MB

2 KB

Not supported

512 bytes

17 MB–32 MB

512 bytes

Not supported

512 bytes

33 MB–64 MB

1 KB

512 bytes

512 bytes

65 MB–128 MB

2 KB

1 KB

512 bytes

129 MB–256 MB

4 KB

2 KB

512 bytes

257 MB–512 MB

8 KB

4 KB

512 bytes

513 MB–1,024 MB

16 KB

4 KB

1 KB

1,025 MB–2 GB

32 KB

4 KB

2 KB

2 GB–4 GB

64 KB

4 KB

4 KB

4 GB–8 GB

Not supported

4 KB

4 KB

8 GB–16 GB

Not supported

8 KB

4 KB

16 GB–32 GB

Not supported

16 KB

4 KB

32 GB–2 TB

Not supported

Not supported

4 KB

The following are some file system size limitations that should also be considered:

  • FAT volumes smaller than 16 megabytes (MB) are formatted as FAT12.

  • FAT16 volumes larger than 2 gigabytes (GB) are not accessible from computers running MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, and many other operating systems.

  • While FAT32 volumes can theoretically be as large as 2 terabytes, Windows 2000 limits the maximum size FAT32 volume that it can format to 32 GB. However, Windows 2000 can read and write to larger FAT32 volumes formatted by other operating systems.

  • The implementation of FAT32 in Windows 2000 limits the maximum number of clusters on a FAT32 volume that can be mounted by Windows 2000 to 4,177,918. This is the maximum number of clusters on a FAT32 volume that can be formatted by Windows 98.

  • NTFS volumes can theoretically be as large as 16 exabytes (EB), but the practical limit is 2 terabytes.

  • The user can specify the cluster size when an NTFS volume is formatted. However, NTFS compression is not supported for cluster sizes larger than 4 kilobytes (KB).

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Note

Clusters are also known as allocation units.

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