Formatting a hard drive by NTFS or FAT 32

I have a 2.5 inch 40 G hard drive

  1. Some mention that NTFS formatting is best. It’s more stable and error-resistant than most other file systems.

  2. I am also getting the following recommendation

. About NTFS, what program are you using? Don’t use Windows’ buiklt-in formatter or some HD manufacturer’s partitioning software to do the format. I strongly suggest using FAT32 for combatibility reasons, although you will lose 8Gb (or, if you want, you can partition your drive into two and lose nothing). First partition your drive either to 32GB for the main partition and leave the rest unpartitioned, or split the partition such that none is larger than 32GB. Then to format, in Windows XP, launch a command prompt (Start->Run-type in CMD). At the commandline, type in:


Assuming D: is your 40Gb drive.

Alternatively, disconnect your current hard disk, connect your 40Gb as bootdrive, start a Windows installation partitioning and formatting FAT32, then abort after the format and reconnect your original hard disk. I recommend NOT using NTFS for compatibility and performance reasons, unless you are sure you need to store music files that are larger than 2Gb.

  1. As far as allocation size, you probably won’t get an option for FAT32 but if you do or use NTFS, generally use the largest cluster size, 4096.

a) alternativey … I get another feedback saying that Default allocation size is just fine for nearly everything, including data storage. Unless you have the knowledge to select between the different allocation units, I suggest you stick with the default.

So what problems are you having with NTFS? I have had none. It is more stable and after a crash I have had less corruption than under FAT32. This is from first hand experience of running XP with both formats.

i dont understand why this person is recommending FAT 32 for compatability and performance reasons .

I am definitely going to use Windows XP or future higher version of the OS
a) I am going for reliabiity , error resistance ; less corruption ; Looks like I should just right click and format using NTFS

If something doesn’t work in XP I have found compatability works fine. I have only had a problem with two old games, Pharoa (compatability solved it) and Home World, sierra produced a patch for this. Other than that everything has worked fine with XP running NTFS.

FAT32 only gives better compatability if using Me in a dual boot as it does not recognise NTFS whereas XP can access both. If the only OS is XP then there are no worries.


Nope. NTFS is more stable, more secure and allows for more features with in Windows itself. It supports larger file sizes too, if you are going to be backing up DVDs this is important.

I think this really says it all.

fat32 is faster for small partitions, but over 32 gigs always go ntfs

The only reason to use FAT32 in Windows XP is for compatibility with other operating systems which understand FAT32 but not NTFS - this includes a DOS boot without NTFS support.

Yes, it’s a largely a myth that NTFS is slower. It depends on the usage but I would say for the average user on a large partition it’s definitely faster. For a moderately sized partition (e.g. 5gb) it’s probably faster in most instances.

For a removable hard disk which you don’t intend to use with OSes that don’t support NTFS, NTFS is a must IMHO. It makes it far less likely you’ll lose data when you fail to properly disconnect your hard disk etc.

I would agree with Matth, except perhaps for very small disks (probably flash disks), e.g. 1gb, FAT32 might be a better choice depending on various factors.

The default allocation size for NTFS (for recent NT oses) is nearly always 4096 bytes (it’s smaller if your partition is smaller then 2gb which is very rare anyway of course). You can use higher but you’ll be unable to use file compression (and possibly some other features). Personally, I did a search before when trying to determine whether to use a larger cluster size for my PVR video storage disk. It did a lot of searching but found it’s not actually clear whether a larger cluster size helps/gives better performance even when all your files are large. MS appears to have semi-abandoned cluster sizes larger then 4096 and with the modern Windows and NTFS drivers it’s possible 4096 bytes might be the best in most cases. If you have a mix of file sizes, I would definitely not recommend larger then 4096… (P.S. the previous is all about NTFS of course)

Should add that one good thing about Vista is we’ll hopefully finally get a good cross OS partition format (for modern OSes I mean) with UDF 2.5 read and write support (I believe Vista/Windows will be the last of the major modern OSes to support both UDF 2.5 and write support for UDF). I haven’t actually seen it analysed but I expect UDF 2.5 should provide most of the desired features, good performance and reliability for the various OSes. Obviously, it’s never likely to be quite as good as NTFS in NT based OSes or any one of the numerous partition formats used in Linux or UFS2 in FreeBSD etc but it’ll be a good alternative/option IMHO when cross-OS support is needed. Especially between Windows/NT and the *nixes.

True, UDF 2.5 probably won’t be as useful to many until XP is fairly irrelevant but it’ll be good to finally get something.

BTW forgot to mention, a FAT32 partition can be up to 1TB or something like that. Windows XP supports FAT32 partitions that large it’s only the Windows format that prevents you creating one.

There are few modern linux OS that can’t access NTFS and there are third party tools for those that can’t. Vistas new file system will not be in the release when it comes out but will be in the form of an update. Many of the lauded changes in Vista are going to come in updates as it won’t be released on time if they aren’t.

No - By default, NTFS might be slower as there are a couple of added feature within NTFS. Using tools like TweakXP Gold or by tweaking some registry settings you can DISABLE a lot of the uncessary extras with NTFS (indexing, etc) and that would greatly enhance / speed up NTFS.

I used to have 40 Gb in this 2.5 inch hard disk but now I have deleted them .
besides formatting the hard disk by NTFS

1) SHOULD I STILL defragment disk ( and not analyse ) , UNDER PROPERTIES
a) how ofen should I do defragment
2) is there a need to do error check ( UNDER PROPERTIES ) for
c) how often should I do an error check ?
3) partitioning helps in a way to prevent one bad sector from corrupting the other
a) how do I partition the 40 Gb into 4 partitions ?

just like comparing xp with 98, 98 is faster, what makes xp slower is what makes it safer, same goes with ntfs and fat 32

For an multiuser system only ntfs is suitable, not fat32.

  1. I confirm that after I first partition in 3 partitions; then I reformat by NTFS; then I defragment, then I error check ?

  2. Some say that if I format by NTFS ; there is no need to de fragment ; If I still defrag ment once a month; I think it’s not harmful to the hard disk

  3. what hard disks is considered new ; which is a better brand ?

Alsmot any FS these days needs defragmentation. So NTFS does, if the left space goes under 10%, it’s really necessary.
Have in mind that NTFS is kinda OLD compared to other Filesystems.

some replies I have gathered
SHould I still defrag if my disk space has less than 10% left ; and speed seems quite slow ( i always transfer files between the different folders in the hard disk and files get written over often )

  1. defragging is a VERY RISKY thing to do. I’ve seen too many people lose data and trash their disks because the OS crashed, a power failure occurred during the defrag process, or data was written to an as-yet-unknown bad cluster. Even my bootdrive only needs to be defragged once every few months and I do a backup first.

  2. Someone also recommended not defragging NTFS to me and I didn’t take their advice and lost 200GB of data when a defrag was interupted and the system rebooted and erased my drive. Now I’m very leary of defragging any of my drives. I’m running Windows 2000 SP4

Windows 2000 is a different beast and an old one at that.

You should always run a scan disc before a defrag, this will find the bad sectors and lock them out of use so no data is written to them if it can’t repair them. I run both in safe mode to save problems with possible crashes. I do these at monthly interevals.