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 Post subject: Formatting USB removable flash drives
 Post Posted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 6:56 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 1:32 pm
Posts: 225
I was curious what your feelings were about all USB flash drives coming pre-formatted as FAT32. I realize they do this for MAC compatibility, but if your flash drive is larger than 4GB, it seems only logical that it should be reformatted or converted to NTFS. Of course, if you want to move a file larger than 4gb, you cannot do it with FAT32 and must change the drive to NTFS. What puzzled me even more is my new LaCie 8GB USB flash drive doesn't allow formatting in NTFS. When I right-click on the drive and select format, FAT32 is the only option XP offers, so it forces me to have to use the CONVERT X: /FS:NTFS command instead. Where is XP getting the information that restricts the format to just FAT32? Surely something on the flash drive is telling Windows NTFS is not available. Can we change that? What do you make of all this??? How do you format your USB drives?


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 Post subject: Re: Formatting USB removable flash drives
 Post Posted: Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:00 pm 
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Joined: Sun Feb 04, 2007 11:44 am
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Quote:
I was curious what your feelings were about all USB flash drives coming pre-formatted as FAT32.

FAT32 is the simplest, fastest and most compatible format for USB (removable) flash drives.

Quote:
I realize they do this for MAC compatibility...

While Macs cannot normally write to NTFS volumes, Mac OS X v10.3 (Panther, released Oct. 2003) and later does include read-only support for NTFS-formatted volumes.

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...but if your flash drive is larger than 4GB, it seems only logical that it should be reformatted or converted to NTFS...

Unfortunately NTFS is not suitable for removable flash drives. NTFS is not very compatible with non-Windows systems, has a high amount of overhead, and in general is not designed for removable devices, where "surprise removal" may be common: viewtopic.php?p=3011#p3011

FAT32 on the other hand has a very low overhead, is supported by many if not most operating systems, and is very simple and well understood. The only problem is that it does not handle >4GiB files, and in general is not designed for the high capacities that modern flash drives have achieved.

For these reasons, Microsoft designed exFAT as a FAT32 replacement for modern flash drives, which is supported by Windows XP and later: http://support.microsoft.com/kb/955704

exFAT has also been selected as the standard format for SDXC (Secure Digital Extended Capacity) 4.0 and later media: http://www.sdcard.org/developers/tech/sdxc

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...if you want to move a file larger than 4gb, you cannot do it with FAT32 and must change the drive to NTFS.

I would recommend using exFAT instead, as it is essentially designed for that purpose.

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What puzzled me even more is my new LaCie 8GB USB flash drive doesn't allow formatting in NTFS...

You can format a flash drive as NTFS if you enable write caching (i.e. select "Optimize for performance") on the device: http://www.ntfs.com/quest22.htm

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How do you format your USB drives?

I format most as FAT32, and some as exFAT, depending on the intended usage. Scott.


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 Post subject: Re: Formatting USB removable flash drives
 Post Posted: Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:38 pm 
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Joined: Sun Jul 20, 2008 10:50 am
Posts: 508
Location: Phoenix, AZ, USA
Thanks Scott,

Learned something new today.

FN


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