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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Converting FAT32 to NTFS

Myth - "Converting FAT32 volumes to NTFS instead of formatting them will reduce performance by forcing a 512 byte cluster size."

Reality - "Windows XP CONVERT creates the best possible cluster size according to the existing FAT format. On NTFS volumes, clusters start at sector zero; therefore, every cluster is aligned on the cluster boundary. For example, if the cluster size was 4K and the sector size was 512 bytes, clusters will always start at a sector number that is a multiple of 4096/512 for example, 8. However, FAT file system data clusters are located after the BIOS Parameter Blocks (BPB), reserved sectors, and two FAT structures. FAT formatting cannot guarantee that data clusters are aligned on a cluster boundary. In Windows 2000, CONVERT handled this problem by forcing an NTFS cluster size of 512 bytes, which resulted in reduced performance and increased disk fragmentation. In Windows XP, CONVERT chooses the best cluster size (4K is the ideal)." - Source

Notes - The FAT32 file system does not use a default cluster size smaller than 4 KB. The maximum NTFS default cluster size under Windows XP is 4 KB because NTFS file compression is not possible on drives with a larger allocation size.

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