NTFS vs FAT vs exFAT

Criteria

NTFS5

NTFS

exFAT

FAT32

FAT16

FAT12

Operating System Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows 2003 Server
Windows 2008
Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows NT
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows 2003 Server
Windows 2008Windows Vista
Windows 7
Windows CE 6.0
Windows Vista SP1
Windows 7
WinXP+KB955704
DOS v7 and higher
Windows 98
Windows ME
Windows 2000
Windows XP
Windows 2003 Server
Windows Vista
Windows 7
DOS All versions of Microsoft Windows DOS All versions of Microsoft Windows
Limitations
Max Volume Size 264 clusters minus 1 cluster 232 clusters minus 1 cluster 128PB 32GB for all OS. 2TB for some OS 2GB for all OS. 4GB for some OS 16MB
Max Files on Volume 4,294,967,295
(232-1)
4,294,967,295
(232-1)
Nearly Unlimited 4194304 65536  
Max File Size 264 bytes
(16 ExaBytes) minus 1KB
244 bytes
(16 TeraBytes) minus 64KB
16EB 4GB minus 2 Bytes 2GB (Limit Only by Volume Size) 16MB (Limit Only by Volume Size)
Max Clusters Number 264 clusters minus 1 cluster 232 clusters minus 1 cluster 4294967295 4177918 65520 4080
Max File Name Length Up to 255 Up to 255 Up to 255 Up to 255 Standard - 8.3
Extended - up to 255
Up to 254
File System Features
Unicode File Names Unicode Character Set Unicode Character Set Unicode Character Set System Character Set System Character Set System Character Set
System Records Mirror MFT Mirror File MFT Mirror File No Second Copy of FAT Second Copy of FAT Second Copy of FAT
Boot Sector Location First and Last Sectors First and Last Sectors Sectors 0 to 11 Copy in 12 to 23 First Sector and Copy in Sector #6 First Sector First Sector
File Attributes Standard and Custom Standard and Custom Standard Set Standard Set Standard Set Standard Set
Alternate Streams Yes Yes No No No No
Compression Yes Yes No No No No
Encryption Yes No No No No No
Object Permissions Yes Yes Yes No No No
Disk Quotas Yes No No No No No
Sparse Files Yes No No No No No
Reparse Points Yes No No No No No
Volume Mount Points Yes No No No No No
Overall Performance
Built-In Security Yes Yes Yes minimal ACL only No No No
Recoverability Yes Yes Yes if TFAT activated No No No
Performance Low on small volumes High on Large Low on small volumes High on Large High High on small volumes Low on large Highest on small volumes Low on large High
Disk Space Economy Max Max Max Average Minimal on large volumes Max
Fault Tolerance Max Max Yes if TFAT activated Minimal Average Average

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