NTFS vs. exFAT

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NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby rpm77 » Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:34 pm

Bought a 2TB WD My Book Essential external HD for storage of DVD files/lossless anime clips/music. Before, I'd reformat to NTFS to get around the 4GB file size limit, but I've never had an exFAT option and know nothing about it. Is it a better format option or should I stick to NTFS?

Thanks.

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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby Kariudo » Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:41 am

Haven't heard a whole lot on exFAT myself. From what I've read, it takes less overhead than NTFS, has a 16 EB* filesize limit (Exa byte, kilo->mega->giga->tera->peta->exa->zetta), a 64 ZB* max disk size, more files per directory, and some other stuff.

For comparison, NTFS limits are ~16 TB per file and ~16 EB per disk.

exFAT may give you slight performance increases in some situations, but unless you have a need to use it I'd stick with NTFS. exFAT can be used by win XP and later, has some beta/experimental support in Linux and probably can't be used with Macs.


*Technically this isn't correct. The capacities were given in powers of 2...so when I say 16 EB it really means ~19 Exabytes and ~75 Zettabytes respecitvely
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby NeoQuixotic » Wed Aug 04, 2010 1:49 pm

I thought exFAT was intended for a replacement for FAT/FAT32 on removable media. The only thing I think we might see it used commercially soon will be very large SDXC cards. I'm getting tired of the 4 GB file limit on CF/SD cards and USB flash drives. If I didn't use Macs frequently, I might just use exFAT for my flash drives. And of course Microsoft won't release the specs or details that will allow this format to grow.
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby post-it » Wed Aug 04, 2010 2:48 pm

soo, if its non-Vista based, then why can't you format exFAT instead of it being a choice to "Format in exFAT"?
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby Kariudo » Wed Aug 04, 2010 3:14 pm

no idea what you're trying to say there post-it, would you rephrase?
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby rshullic » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:39 pm

For more information there is a technical paper in the SANS reading room at: http://www.sans.org/reading_room/whitepapers/forensics/reverse-engineering-microsoft-exfat-file-system_33274 and there is a blog at http://rshullic.wordpress.com

There has been a lot of inaccurate information posted on exFAT, even Microsoft can't publish the proper detals, as they (Microsoft) published bad information in the KB for the Windows XP/Server 2003 patch to add exFAT support to those systems.

So, first, let's talk about file size: Microsoft incorrectly published the maximum file size as 64ZiB, and as a result the Wikipedia and other websites followed along. The truth is. the maxium file size, as in NTFS, is 16EiB because the file size, i.e. the number of bytes in a file, is stored in a 64 bit number. However, since the file system can never be larger than 128PiB, which is smaller than 16EiB, you will never reach the theoretical maximum anyway. However, this is larger than then the 4GB limit of FAT32.

Suitability: exFAT was designed for removale media. NTFS is not suitable for removalable media, especially since NTFS uses a lazy write, which means that data and control blocks are bufferend into memory, and an abrupt disengage of the media could result in data loss. Today, USB media does come to mind, but between the SD card association and Sony with the Memory stick, they have adopted exFAT as the exclusive file system of SDXC and XC memory stick media, which is used in cameras, cell phones, GPS, etc and between SD and Sony, that is 90% of the markey. However, each camera manufacturer has to pay Microsoft like $300K each for the license to the specifications. But almost anything can be formatted in exFAT (excpet floppies) and USB is not the only removalable media out there.

Compatibility: exFAT is right now restricted to the Desktop/Server platforms of Windows XP (SP2 & SP3 with a patch), Vista (SP1 and above), and WIndows 7 (RTM). There is not Linux, MAC, or other OS support right now. All consumer devices, except Windows CE and the camera companies that licensed the specification, can NOT support exFAT. (There is actually a TV manufacturer that also licensed exFAT). This means that PS2, PS3, XBOX, probably most Blu-Ray Players, cell phones, etc don't have exFAT support. even devices that have SDXC imbedded card readers can't support exFAT unless the OS installed on those devices can read/write exFAT.

Speed: NTFS is not necessarily faster than exFAT since NTFS has a lot of overhead. [I have not benchmarked this]. NTFS is faster than FAT12/FAT16/FAT32 because NTFS has the free space allocation map, but exFAT now has the bitmp as well. Also, in exFAT - the FAT itself is no longer used unless there is file fragmentation, i.e. the file can't be written as one set of contigious blocks. This also reduced a lot of overhead because the FAT was a set of controls blocks that required a lot of I/O. One of the problems with FAT16 and FAT32, when used in cameras was finding available free blocks. The fle system overhead slowed down write operations. When you look at the future SD4.0 card specification, it calls for a bus speed for i/o transfer of up to 300MBps (that is 2.4 gigabits/second). We are currently at SD3.0 with a maximum bus speed of 104MBps, and the SDXC memory cards are currently being toted as class 10 but claim a 30MBps speed and cost $400 and above. Since these cards are all new, it is going to take a few years to get a reasonable prive point. But a 48GB SDXC card is the equivalent memory space of a dual layer Blu-Ray disc, and can be re-written.

NTFS/exFAT: exFAT calls for file permissions and fault tollerance (which I believe the Windows CE version has), but is not in the current exFAT 1.00 specification. So, it is possible that exFAT wil get a lot more NTFS features. But today, exFAT has one (1) FAT where FAT16/FAT32 have 2, so exFAT actually has less fault tollerance on the desktop today than its predecessors.

Micorosft never supported creation of a FAT32 file system larger than 32GB, but it will support a FAT32 system formatted for larger than 32GB, although some utilities won't work correctly, such as some setup utilities.
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby rpm77 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 1:26 am

Thanks Kariudo. I talked to a tech friend of mine today and he pretty much said the same thing you did. He also said in theory exFAT's good for straight storage because it has such a small overhead and leaves more of your actual drive free for data, but NTFS is better at indexing and buffering data to and from the disk (disc?), so if you want to *use* the data on the HD in real time (like for editing video) then to stick with NTFS.

He, however, has 'sploded my computer before so was glad to see someone else corroborate his story. XD
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby post-it » Fri Aug 06, 2010 3:13 pm

.. what I'm trying to ask is, "Why exFAT is an option that can only be selected from a menu"
-- doesn't seem fair that you have to select it instead of just calling it -- If It Is an Actual Format!

My understanding of FAT -vs- NTSF had something to do with memory management. exFAT somehow
took less memory to maintain its structure than either "the old FAT -vs- NTSF structures. As such,
it has no limitations ( as far as we know )

? is this true -or- just an Advertising ploy? [[[ exFAT is better than the old standards ]]] ???
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby rshullic » Fri Aug 06, 2010 4:59 pm

I don't think it is as much as exFAT taking less memory, because exFAT introduced the bitmap to the FAT line of file systems, the actual FAT itself is not used unless needed. So, with a bitmap you can find an open region of free space quicker. In the older FAT, you had to examine the pointer chain. That is why in FAT32, in the VBR, there is a sector that contains references to large blocks of freespace.
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby Kariudo » Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:19 pm

I think you may have misread the original post. rpm77 was saying that when he (forgive me if I'm wrong there) went to format the drive, exFAT appeared in the list of choices alongside NTFS and FAT32, not that he went to the disk properties and was asked if he wanted to call the FAT32 volume an exFAT one.

Given that you have the patch for XP SP2/3, Vista SP1 or Win 7 you can format a disk using exFAT by typing "FORMAT Disk_letter_in_here:\ /FS:exFAT" on the command prompt

I don't know how the overhead of exFAT compares to that of FAT16 or FAT32, but I doubt that it's less. So it's sounding like what you heard is half true and half advertising ploy.
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Re: NTFS vs. exFAT

Postby rpm77 » Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:50 am

Kariudo wrote:rpm77 was saying that when he (forgive me if I'm wrong there) went to format the drive, exFAT appeared in the list of choices alongside NTFS and FAT32, not that he went to the disk properties and was asked if he wanted to call the FAT32 volume an exFAT one.

Right, I went to format the drive. I'm running a refurbished Windows XP computer and FAT32 didn't even come up as an option, which is one of the things that threw me. I was only allowed to format NTFS or exFAT (this is from the 'easy peasy right-click on drive and select from the menu' method of formatting), so I was curious.
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