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This is the final installment of my write-ups explaining the file systems. In this one, I’ll explain FAT, NTFS and HFS+.


File Allocation Table; more popular by its abbreviation FAT, is one of the most common file systems in the computing world. This file system, developed by Microsoft, has been in existence for quite a while and has seen  a few updates along the way as well, in form of FAT16 and FAT32. According to me, this is the simplest file system of all and supports file size up to 4 GB. A linked list structure is used by this and removable Medias such as SD cards and USB drives use this more often, rather than a general hard drive.

File Systems - 1


New Technology File System is a product of Microsoft and is often termed as the next generation file system. The structure is more complex compared to FAT and starting from Windows XP, Microsoft incorporated this file system into their operating systems as well. It keeps records of all the operations and hence is known to be a journaling file system. It easily detects errors and knows the relevant recovery process as well. Some errors it can easily recover from are: Power Outage and Drive Failure. Each file size can be as much as 16 TB with NTFS, the maximum volume size being 256 TB. NTFS is not universal as FAT, however most of the operating systems provide support for this. Unlike FAT, this is suitable for the hard drives, but not for the removable Medias.

File Systems - 2


This has been developed by Apple for the MACs. Just like NTFS, this is a journaling file system as well and it supports easy recovery in case of serious issues. Both Linux and MAC OS X operating systems are compatible with HFS+, but not Windows.

With this, I finish my 3-part series on file systems here. I hope it was entertaining and informative. If anyone reading these articles has any questions for me, feel free to shoot them through the comments section.

In an earlier article, I told you the process of formatting a large hard drive with FAT or FAT32 manually. Now, you may not be a fan of manual process and to help you out in such a case, I’ll discuss some tools in this article that will help you to reformat the hard drive with either FAT or FAT32. I understand that not everyone likes to mess with command lines and I am sure these tools will prove to be helpful to you:



This application is available for Windows XP users, if we consider the free version. This is a simple partition manager which will help you to do more than just plain formatting of the hard drive with various file systems. This application can also be used for deleting, creating and resizing partitions.

If you wish to use this application on any of the recent versions of Windows, you need to buy the Premium version of SwissKnife. There are free tools available as well and I am discussing those below.



This self-executable tool has a nice user interface and that lets you format the big hard drives with FAT32. Even Windows 7 users can use this tool. There are balloon tips which will guide you through the different functions; however, no other type of documentation is available for this.

There is one disadvantage that I’ll like to mention though. It is possible for you to delete a partition and create new ones, still, the allocation unit size cannot be chosen by you.

FAT32 Format

FAT32 Format

It is capable of a single task and that is formatting drives with FAT32. Believe me; it does that task pretty well. You don’t need to install this tool either. It supports up to 2TB partition size and works for Windows XP and Windows 7 users.

FAT32 Format is another very basic portable GUI tool that doesn’t require installation. It just does one task, and it does that very efficiently: format drives with FAT32.

When you format your system with either FAT or FAT32, there is generally a limit of 32 GB for the partitions. However, this is not the entire truth. In fact, FAT or FAT32 itself can handle around 16TB hard drives and in most of the operating systems, up to 2TB is supported as well. However, in an attempt to promote NTFS (Which in fact is more efficient when it comes to working with the big partitions), Microsoft has set a partition size limit of 32GB for FAT or FAT32 file system.

FAT -1

So, there are 3 things that come out of the above paragraph. First, the limitation only exists for the recent versions of Windows released by Microsoft. Additionally, Windows recognizes the large hard drives which are formatted with either FAT or FAT32. Lastly, the 32GB partition limit is something that you can easily circumvent.

In the below portion, I will teach you all a manual way of formatting a large hard drive that comes with FAT or FAT32 file system:

You can off course use tools for this, but, I prefer the manual way as the process is pretty easy. First of all, you need to switch to the command line. If you are using Windows XP, go to Start->Run. For Windows Vista and Windows 7 users, go to Start->Run (Type this in search field) and then launch the same. Now, in the text field, type cmd and click OK. The command line will open up.

FAT -2

Now, over there, write this: format /FS:FAT32 P: (Remember to replace the word P with the driver letter for the external device that you intend to format).

Now, hit enter. That’s it! Well, the formatting may take time depending on the hard drive size.

Isn’t the process easy? Have you ever tried to format hard drive using FAT or FAT32? If yes, let us know about your experience through the comments.

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