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Does file system format affect data transfer speed? FAT vs NTFS


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#1 Chic Bowdrie

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 12:49 PM

My internal drive is 40 GB formatted FAT32.  My FreeAgent external drives is NTFS and my Lacie is FAT32, both 250 GB.   I previously used both drives for data transfer and file storage.  I am planning to use the Freeagent drive for backing up my other drives and the Lacie only for file storage.  Is there any speed or safety advantages to reverse my plan based on the file format type?  In other words, is saving and opening files slower or faster between two FAT32 drives as opposed to between FAT32 and NTFS?  I don’t care about speed for backing up since it will be programmed to be done overnight.

 

XP SP3 Dell Dimension D8100 (formerly Millenium OS) frequently using flash drives between home and elsewhere.



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#2 zingo156

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 01:37 PM

I can not speak on the speed of each format, I would not think any of them would be faster than another. Most 7200rpm desktop drives can probably read/write around 80-100MB/s. (Some are much faster). I do not think the partition type would make much if any difference in speeds.

 

I can say that FAT32 will not allow you to have a single file larger than 4gb. NTFS can store single files larger than any current hard drive. An example of such files might be a blue ray video, 4k video, sometimes outlook pst files get larger than 4gb. NTFS is a prefered format for any current windows machine or storage device.

 

There are some cases where you may still want to use fat32. If you have both mac and windows computers, mac can not write to ntfs natively (to my knowledge yet) there may be software to do so. If you have a mac and windows pc and wish to share the drive between the 2 machines fat32 is compatible.


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#3 zingo156

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 01:42 PM

There may be some indication that NTFS performs faster than fat32:

 

http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2421454,00.asp

 

Which is Faster?
While file transfer speed and maximum throughput is limited by the slowest link (usually the hard drive interface to the PC like SATA or a network interface like 3G WWAN), NTFS formatted hard drives have tested faster on benchmark tests than FAT32 formatted drives. Other factors will be in play, however, including drive technology (HDD vs. SDD, Flash vs. non-Flash, etc.) and file fragmentation (on spinning drives).

 

Now I am curious as to how much faster it was, I need to find that benchmark. I have used ntfs since windows 98... I have 1 fat 32 formatted flash drives to share between a mac os computer and my windows machines. Linux works fine with nearly any format.


Edited by zingo156, 27 March 2014 - 01:45 PM.

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#4 Roodo

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 01:49 PM

File systems do not affect transfer rates. Fat and NTFS do certain things better at seeking and
retreiving files depending on size but that wont effect the actual transfer of data. Thats based on the
slowest technology your using (ie sata,usb)

#5 Kilroy

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 03:25 PM

zingo156 Windows 98 didn't support NTFS reading.  You could read a drive that was formatted NTFS but only if you were mapped to it and the drive was installed on a machine with an OS that would read NTFS (Windows NT or Windows 2000).  There were third party add-ons that you could use, but natively Windows 98 didn't support it.  I only remember this mostly useless fact due to Microsoft having questions on their certification testing about machines with multiple OSes and you had to know how to format the drive partitions to allow the different OSes to either be able to read or not able to read.



#6 zingo156

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 03:35 PM

It has been so long, I suppose it may have been 2000. I think I do recall using ntfsdos with 98, possibly to read an ntfs formatted drive.


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#7 Kilroy

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 03:46 PM

Sad to say we've been doing this that long.  The problem is I have to dump a lot of what I used to know to make room for the new stuff.  I'd have a hard time working on Windows XP as I've been supporting Windows 7 for about four years now and come April 8th, I don't need to remember Windows XP any more.



#8 Chic Bowdrie

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Posted 27 March 2014 - 03:48 PM

 

I can say that FAT32 will not allow you to have a single file larger than 4gb. .... NTFS is a prefered format for any current windows machine or storage device.

 

 

Since my backups will be larger than 4Gb, I have no choice then but to use the FreeAgent which is NTFS.

 

Thanks, zingo and Roodo for the quick replies. 



#9 beeper54

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 02:38 AM

NTFS is definitely the way to go! FAT32, as people have mentioned doesn't support files greater than 4 Gb



#10 jonuk76

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Posted 01 April 2014 - 06:32 PM

You can get third party software that adds NTFS read/write ability to Windows 98, but it doesn't have any support for it 'out the box' :)

 

I'm not sure on the raw speed differences between file systems, but I believe there are features that make NTFS faster in certain file operations.  Compared to FAT, NTFS has many advanced features like journalling that makes it a more reliable file system for important data, as well as of course support for larger file sizes.

 

It is possible to convert a FAT32 partition to NTFS non-destructively (note it's a one way process).  See this article for how to do this with Windows XP.


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