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  1. FAT (File Allocation Table) Comparison Chart
File Allocation Table (FAT):

A Table or list maintained by some Operating Systems (O/S) to keep track of the status of various segments of disk space used for file storage. In other words, the FAT (File Allocation Table) is a System for keeping track of how files are stored on a disk.

Disk Defragmentation is essential for proper System Maintenance & Performance. Even NTFS Partitions whether Workstations or Servers benefit from Defragmentation.

Windows Operating System FAT - File Allocation Tables:

The File System used by MS-DOS and adapted for Windows to store information on Disks, which makes use of a File Allocation Table. There are three types of FAT File Systems. The FAT12 (12-bit) is used on FAT volumes smaller than 16 megabytes in size, such as Floppy Disks. FAT16 can be found on all versions of Windows - Win2000, WinMe, Win98, and the later Win95 OEM SR2 also support FAT32; Windows NT does not.

Although Win2000 does support FAT32, it does not create FAT32 Partitions upon installation of Win2000 OEM. Win2000 will create FAT32 Partitions from the Control Panel - Administrative Tools, Computer Management, Disk Management. This is also the place for configuration (Fdisk & Format) of additional Disk Drive Storage for Operational use.

  1. FAT12 - Floppies
  2. FAT16 - DOS & Win3x days plus lower capacity Storage Media Devices.
  3. FAT32 - Win9x
  4. NTFS - NT, Win2000 & NTFS5 - WinXP flavors
  5. WinFS - Windows Future Storage (SQL Server 2003 based File System).
Windows File Systems:
Windows Operating Systems File Systems
Windows 2000/XP/ Server 2003 FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 & NTFS
Windows NT 4.0 FAT12, FAT16, & NTFS
Windows 95 SR2/98/ 98SE/Me FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32
Windows 95 FAT12 & FAT16

File Allocation Tables & File Sizes...

  1. Choosing between NTFS, FAT, and FAT32:
  2. NTFS.com NTFS vs FAT32 FAT16 FAT.Comparing.Performance.
  3. 67321 - FAT Type and Cluster Size Depends on Logical Drive Size:

Quoting from Microsoft.com link (Above), The following table (Below) describes the compatibility comparisons of each File System with the various Operating Systems.

Some older programs may not run on an NTFS Volume (DOS Apps or Utilities) or the Windows Future Storage (WinFS). WinFS - Rumored to be the new File System in Longhorn, the code name for the next version of Windows Desktop after WinXP. Research your current requirements for your software before converting File Systems.

  1. www.microsoft.com - FAT File System Technology and Patent License: "The first FAT file system was developed by Microsoft in 1976." (12/3/2003)
  2. www.microsoft.com - FAT File System The Story Behind the Innovation:
  3. Q100108 - Overview of FAT, HPFS, and NTFS File Systems:
  4. Q120138 - Errors Creating Files or Folders in the Root Directory: (FAT16)

    "This problem occurs when all 512 root directory entries have been used. This problem can also occur with fewer than 512 files and folders in the root directory because Windows 95 uses additional directory entries to store long file names.

    NOTE: Any file whose name contains more than 13 characters requires 3 or more directory entries."


  5. FAT32 File System for Windows:
  6. Q154997 - Description of the FAT32 File System:
  7. Q184006 - Limitations of FAT32 File System:
  8. Q253774 - Common Questions About the FAT32 File System:
  9. 192322 - Description of Default Cluster Sizes for FAT32 File System:

    "FAT32 - A derivative of the File Allocation Table File System. FAT32 supports smaller cluster sizes than FAT, which results in more efficient space allocation on FAT32 drives."

  10. Q314463 - Limitations of the FAT32 File System in Windows XP
  11. Q126855 - Windows Support for Large IDE Hard Disks
  12. Q118335 - Maximum Partition Size Using FAT16 File System
  13. 255867 - How to Use the Fdisk Tool and the Format Tool to Partition or Repartition a Hard Disk
  14. DOS NTFS Boot Disk Windows 98 XP NT NTFS.com
  15. www.FDisk.com: Pointers to DOS HDD Tools.
  16. IBM Software Operating Systems OS-2 Warp Server for e-business - Files can be as large as the Partition size, up to 2 Terabytes...
  17. Q263044 - Fdisk Does Not Recognize Full Size of Hard Disks Larger than 64 GB

    NOTE: This hotfix is not designed for 48-bit logical block addressing (LBA) hard disks, and it is not supported on hard disks larger than 137 GB."

  18. Partition Zapper - Deletes Partitions When FDISK Won't

FAT12 is the only format used on floppy diskettes!

Data Recovery
File Systems
Windows Help
Notes on DOS FDISK Command
KODAK Digital Learning Center Book 3 Chapter 6 Lesson 1 Digital Storage
Microsoft TechNet:
Ch 13 File Systems
DOS NTFS Boot Disk Windows 98 XP NT NTFS.com
NTFSDOS Pro- Winternals

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Web Development, Gill Boyd & Team - Posted 08/11/2001; Updated 12/10/2003