What is FAT vs NTFS

hardware exFAT vs. NTFS - these are the differences


When formatting external hard drives and USB sticks, you are quickly faced with the choice between NTFS, exFAT or FAT32. These file systems are responsible for storing and retrieving your data. You can find out which file system is suitable for which purpose and what you should pay attention to in this tips + tricks article.


FAT is the oldest of the filesystems presented here. Other versions of it are, for example, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and VFAT. It is often used for USB sticks, external hard drives or digital cameras. Especially if you have disk too outside of Windows want to use, you should use FAT due to the good compatibility. Also Game consoles for example have no problem with recognizing the FAT file system. However, individual files that you want to save on the data carrier can have a size of Do not exceed 4GB. Another file system should be used to save longer film clips, for example.


exFAT or "Extended File Allocation Table" is suitable for use in flash memories, e.g. USB sticks and SSD hard drives. Especially if you're between multiple operating systems How Windows, Mac or Linux switch back and forth, an exFAT formatting of your data carrier is a good idea. There is no limit to the file size, but exFAT is also used more for backing up smaller file sizes recommended. Another disadvantage - especially compared to NTFS - is that your data is saved under exFAT do not compress can.

Note: On macOS, exFAT is off Version 10.6.5 compatible.


The file system NTFS ("New Technology File System") offers many advantages. Four kilobytes per cluster, the smallest unit of data, mean one more effective hard drive performance and a reduced risk of data loss. Since Windows Vista, NTFS has been the standard file system that can be found in the built-in hard drives. The limit of the file size is theoretically 16 terabytes. In practical terms, however, you first have to manage to create a file of this size. Unlike FAT and exFAT, you can use your Data under NTFS compress and encrypt. NTFS is particularly suitable for internal or larger external hard drives that are to be used in a Windows environment.

The differences at a glance