How to choose when formatting a hard drive? Difference between hard drive formats FAT32, NTFS, exFAT

When formatting hard drives, options for file systems will pop up. There are FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT formats respectively.

Table of Contents

We often format computer hard drives, USB flash drives, and portable hard drives. When formatting hard drives, options for file systems will pop up. There are FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT formats respectively. Hard disk formatting…


Partition Type / File System: NTFS

NTFS is currently the most widely used partition type, we can set permissions, and has many more functions than Fat32, and is excellent in security, ease of use, and stability. It began to be popular after Win 2000, and now it has developed to the maximum support of 256TB (MBR) in NTFS and 128EB in GPT partition. At present, most computer hard disks are using NTFS, we recommend the preferred NTFS partition type when partitioning! It is not recommended to use NTFS for USB flash drives, which greatly shortens the service life.


Since the NTFS partition type is proprietary to Microsoft, it is more or less a hassle for Mac users, who need third-party software to write to NTFS file systems, so we recommend the exFAT format for multi-platform users.

Partition Type / File System: FAT32

Usually, USB flash drives are basically in FAT32 format, only its compatibility is a bit better, almost all the current mainstream systems read and write to the format, but its security is not high, you can not set permissions, the use of the disk is also relatively inefficient, the key is to have restrictions on individual file capacity, the copy size can not exceed 4GB capacity, and the file name length can not exceed 255 characters. Due to the increasing capacity of the USB disk, the FAT32 format is not recommended.

When we copy files, if the file size exceeds 4GB capacity, then the system will prompt the “file too large” prompt and cannot complete the copy.

Partition Type / File System: exFAT

ExFAT, also known as FAT64, emerged after Windows CE6. It solves the problem that FAT32 does not support large files of more than 4G. It directly supports up to 16EB (currently 256GB), which is applicable to both Windows and Mac, and has a very strong cross-platform capability. Microsoft is designed for flash memory (U disk, memory cards) flash memory device design file system, compatibility is very good. Mobile devices such as USB flash drives are recommended.

How to format a hard disk?

As for the choices of hard disk formatting, there is no doubt that NTFS is more suitable for disk (mechanical hard disk, SOLID state disk), while exFAT is suitable for flash disk (USB disk). ExFAT is an updated version of FAT32, which breaks the limit on the size of a single file.

The above is the difference comparison between FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT that DiskMFR shares. Generally speaking, it is recommended to use NTFS partition type for computer hard disk and exFAT format for U disk. I hope it can help you.

If you still have any queries, a mail or message is available. Our engineers will give you full free support.

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DiskMFR Field Sales Manager - Leo

It’s Leo Zhi. He was born on August 1987. Major in Electronic Engineering & Business English, He is an Enthusiastic professional, a responsible person, and computer hardware & software literate. Proficient in NAND flash products for more than 10 years, critical thinking skills, outstanding leadership, excellent Teamwork, and interpersonal skills.  Understanding customer technical queries and issues, providing initial analysis and solutions. If you have any queries, Please feel free to let me know, Thanks

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