To NTFS, or not to NTFS, that is the question

  minter 22:49 13 Aug 03

Am Partitioning/Formatting my HD

Would like to know if it is possible to install XP + Program Files on "C" and format it as NTFS - but partition/format the rest of my HD as FAT32.

Using the FAT32 part to save all my work, so that it can be used by other systems.

Or would running the programs in NTFS make it impossible to use the files in FAT32.

  The Sack 23:05 13 Aug 03

I would partition it all as NTFS as the file system has no baring on whether a file will work on another PC or not. Or do you mean you have a Win98 PC networked to read off the FAT 32 partition?

  Ken Ju-On 23:18 13 Aug 03

If you're going to be using Win98 or Me (hmm... I wouldn't...) then be sure to format a partition in FAT32.

Else, by all means, do format in NTFS as it has many advantages in stability and efficiency over FAT32.

So, in a nutshell...

NTFS can use FAT32 files.

FAT32 cannot read NTFS.

  BBez 23:23 13 Aug 03

if you are say using NTFS permissions for a word doc, when you burn it to CD rom/floppy and copy it back over to a FAT32 partition, then all NTFS permissions are lost and can be used on a FAT 32 partition eg Win 98. It is only the NTFS partition that FAT 32 cannot read, not the files contained on the partition

  jazzypop 23:34 13 Aug 03

The short answer is yes, you can - see click here which basically says that when first installing XP, select and create a partition smaller than the capacity of your drive (e.g. 60GB of am 80GB drive), and install XP to that. Once installed, go to the Disk Management utility (right-click My Computer, choose Manage > Disk Management), then right-click the unallocated space on the drive and format that as FAT32.

Note that XP will try hard not to let you install FAT32 to a partition greater than 32GB. If you need greater than 32GB on the 'shared' partition, there is a workaround at click here

  temp003 03:59 14 Aug 03

As jazzypop says, yes, you can do what you want, but there's no need for that for the reason you have in mind.

Even if you network another computer with Win 9x on FAT32 to your XP NTFS system, the other computer can still read your NTFS partitions.

It's only when your OS is on a FAT32 partition and you try to read a local NTFS partition that you can't read the NTFS partition.

So if you think you might need to physically remove your XP hdd and install it in a 9x system, then you'll need FAT32 partitions for your data files.

  minter 07:12 14 Aug 03

Sorry folks, I have not explained myself very well.

What I am worried about is that if I run XP, Photoshop, Word, Publisher, etc. after installing them to "C" using NTFS, then any work I do will not be accessible to someone using a computer running a FAT32 system.

My daughter often uses my computer to prepare items for where she works, but the system that her employer uses runs FAT32. If I run my programs on NTFS, but save the work to FAT32 will she still be able to transfer whatever she does from my computer to her works computer.

Or am I on the wrong tack altogether.

Sorry if this lot sounds confused, but I am.

  temp003 11:09 14 Aug 03

Presumably your daughter will save the work to a CD or a floppy first, take the floppy or CD to work?

If so, the question of NTFS or FAT32 is irrelevant. Your daughter will be able to use the work where it is saved on your computer, and whether it's NTFS or FAT32.

  SEASHANTY 11:12 14 Aug 03


  jazzypop 18:40 14 Aug 03

FAT32 and NTFS can be thought of as methods of filing, organising and storing files on your hard drive. It is only important to the operating system (i.e. Windows).

The data files that are produced by your applications (e.g. a Word document, a Photoshop picture, a Publisher newsletter) are created in an identical format, whether your hard drive is formatted as FAT32 or NTFS.

So, if your daughter creates a Word document at home, when she saves it, it will be internally stored in a way that 'makes sense' to NTFS. When she emails it to work, it will be stored (on arrival) in a way that 'makes sense' to the FAT32 system. The data itself is not affected in any way whatsoever.

Remember that floppy disks and CDs use different formatting systems again, and yet are successfully used to transfer files between different systems.

The only thing that is important is whether the particular version of Windows understands the type of formatting (FAT16, FAT32, NTFS etc) that is being used to store and organise the files that it is trying to access.

W98 does not 'understand' NTFS - therefore, if two PCs are directly networked, and the W98 PC tries to read or write a file to an NTFS partition on the other drive, W98 will simply not understand the filing system on the NTFS partition, and will be unable to access it. XP understands both FAT32 and NTFS.

In your situation, where you will not be trying to get a W98 PC to directly read the directory of files and folders on your PC, I urge you to format your drive as NTFS, as that has many inherent advantages and efficiencies over FAT32.

I hope this is a clearer explanation, now that we understand your situation more clearly :)

  minter 09:39 15 Aug 03

Thanks everyone, for the feedback, especially Jazzypop. The explanation has managed to "worm" its way into my noggin.

It's me age you know. I am only working on a limited number of brain cells. The rest have been infected by "Blaster."

This site is the best, the number of problems solved speaks for itself!

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