mike13

Format flash drive

22 posts in this topic

Should a flash drive be formatted in Fat32, which I think is the default, or should it be formatted as NTSF ?? Or doesn't it really matter. Thanks, Mike

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It depends on a number of factors.

"stock" flash USB stick normally come formatted as "super-floppy" (i.e. NOT partitioned) and FAT32.

FAT32 cannot host files larger than around 4 Gb.

To boot from the stick it is usually needed to have it partitioned.

If you plan to boot from it some Linux OS, some of them do not have kernel level (or initial) support for NTFS.

FAT32 drivers have been dumbed down by MS, so NTFS is generally speaking, better performing, and it can host files larger than 4 Gb BUT, depending on some settings may wear out the device prematurely, see:

http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/125116-fat16-vs-fat32-vs-ntfs-speed-on-usb-stick/

BUT there are strategies to format the stick providing a slightly better performance:

http://www.msfn.org/board/topic/151798-does-fat32-align-its-clusters/

http://reboot.pro/topic/16775-discover-allocation-unit-and-other-information-of-ufd-under-windows/

http://reboot.pro/topic/16783-rmprepusb-faster-fat32-write-access-on-flash-memory-drives/

Finally newish USB 3 "high end" USB sticks are not anymore flash dries, but rather (small) SSD's with a USB3 to SATA bridge.

jaclaz

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Thanks jaclaz for the reply and links to read, but I am not sure I understand what I read. First of all, I have never BOOTED from a flash drive. Not sure how to do that. I am confused about the part that FAT 32 will only host 4GB at most, because I have a 16 Gig flash drive that I know I have saved files to that were larger than 4 Gig. As far as the drive wearing out quicker if you format it as NTSF probably does not matter much as I only used these drives maybe once a week or less. With that said, I guess I should format them as NTSF in the future ?? Thanks

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He means that fat32 systems cannot handle SINGLE files that are 4+ gigs.

(That has been a very long known limitation.)

Edited by Kelsenellenelvian
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Again, it depends.
If you plan to use them only on newish MS OS's, you should go for exFAT which is faster and allows for large files. (but you loose compatibility with older systems).
If you need the wider compatibility, FAT32 is better, and you can (if you want) partition it and optimize the placement of the filesystem to gain some beter performance, but you won't be able to host on that filesystem files larger than 4 Gb (yes, of course you can have more than 4 Gb in different files, but the size of any single file must be smaller than 4 Gb).
If you want large file and "wide enough" compatibility, and overall a "more solid" filesystem[1], go for NTFS.

Always use "safe remove" or equivalent before removing a USB stck from a running PC.

jaclaz

N.B.:[1] the attribution of "more solid" in this context does NOT mean that I want to initiate the usual FAT32 vs. NTFS, Dracula vs. Mickey Mouse, Godzilla vs. King Kong flamewar :ph34r:, it is only meant to highlight some features of the NTFS that make in certain circumstances easier to recover data from a crashed filesystem :).

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I've got my external hard drive (which I use for back-uping some ISO files) formatted into NTFS and a flash drive in FAT32 because I usually have to put it into Macs. My friend has a hard drive partitioned - half in NTFS and half in FAT - pretty handy.

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My friend has a hard drive partitioned - half in NTFS and half in FAT - pretty handy.

A cousin of mine has a USB hard disk that is roughly 1/3 NTFS, 1/3 FAT32 and 1/3 EXT4, even handier. :yes:

jaclaz

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Go NTFS if you can, which nearly means, if no Linux nor camera must use the card.

If a file write goes wrong - not uncommon with removeable media - you lose one file with NTFS, but many or all with FAT32.

Also, NTFS aligns naturally the clusters on Flash lines and pages if starting the volume at 1MiB boundaries, while Fat32 alignment is difficult.

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If a file write goes wrong - not uncommon with removeable media - you lose one file with NTFS, but many or all with FAT32.

Hmmm. :unsure:

Apodictical/anecdotal at it's best. :(

Also, NTFS aligns naturally the clusters on Flash lines and pages if starting the volume at 1MiB boundaries, while Fat32 alignment is difficult.

Not really, we have a tool doing it (JFYI) :yes::

http://reboot.pro/topic/16775-discover-allocation-unit-and-other-information-of-ufd-under-windows/

http://reboot.pro/topic/16783-rmprepusb-faster-fat32-write-access-on-flash-memory-drives/

jaclaz

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(snicker...) It's been around for quite some time. ;)

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A cousin of mine has a USB hard disk that is roughly 1/3 NTFS, 1/3 FAT32 and 1/3 EXT4, even handier. :yes:

The downside is that (statistically) you end up with 1/3 of the free space in each partition and that can potentially be an annoyance when your drive fills up and you need to shift big amounts of data.

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A cousin of mine has a USB hard disk that is roughly 1/3 NTFS, 1/3 FAT32 and 1/3 EXT4, even handier. :yes:

The downside is that (statistically) you end up with 1/3 of the free space in each partition and that can potentially be an annoyance when your drive fills up and you need to shift big amounts of data.

Nahh, that cousin of mine is a yute ;):

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0104952/quotes?item=qt0404568

that uses the stick just to avoid loosing his keys, all partitions on it are empty. :w00t:

If it was not clear :unsure:, that cousin is a fictional character that I invented only to reply to the purely anecdotal contribution by NixFix. :whistle:

jaclaz

Edited by jaclaz
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Fat32? No master file table. Reminds me of having a faster internet connection over a decade ago. My hope in the human race is way past lost. :(

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Fat32? No master file table. Reminds me of having a faster internet connection over a decade ago. My hope in the human race is way past lost. :(

So, something that has worked for at least 15 years (within it's limitations) is to be replaced by NTFS even when there is no need whatsoever of the NTFS features?

Isn't it surprising that exFAT is still FAT (and not MFT) based? :unsure:

jaclaz

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