Super User is a question and answer site for computer enthusiasts and power users. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I've got a 1 TB hard disk drive which is currently formatted as NTFS. I've recently learned about exFAT. I'm connecting this drive via USB. Which filesystem should I use for this large hard disk drive and why?

(I know exFAT requires a patch on Windows XP; this is not a concern.)

share|improve this question
up vote 17 down vote accepted

Since you're basically contemplating NTFS vs. exFAT, easy support for other operating systems doesn't seem to be a concern. I'd suggest staying with NTFS. exFAT is primarily meant for smaller volumes and slower devices where the space and complexity overhead of NTFS is an issue.

So I wonder what exactly do you plan to gain from formatting that drive with exFAT. It's in most ways inferior to NTFS anyway.

share|improve this answer
Alright. The only benefit of exFAT I could think of was that it may cope better with being unplugged without unmounting. I'll stick with NTFS then. – romkyns Aug 27 '09 at 10:03
If anything, then probably NTFS will handle that scenario better due to having a journal and more advanced facilities for preventing data loss. However, if you habitually yank out the cable to your HDD I'd suggest you simply disable write cache on that volume so that you don't have to unmount it for syncing all changes to the disk. – Joey Aug 27 '09 at 11:12

I'm pretty sure the "If it aint broken" philosophy is appropriate here. Do you really have a reason to start mucking about with filesystems? It's not as if NTFS has any major problems. Besides NTFS is a well-known filesystem that's been around for a while, whereas exFAT is the new kid on the block. This could cause problems down the line. For example if you were to ever use that disk on a linux system, you'd have far more support for NTFS than exFAT.

share|improve this answer

I would go for the ntfs too. Probably the least problematical and a quite good filesystem for large drives. If you want to tweak your hard-drive as much as it's possible try reading about formatting with the right blocksize for you.

share|improve this answer

Mac OS X 10.6.5 now supports the exFAT file system so that would not cause an issue on this drive. However, as has been pointed out many times here and everywhere else I have checked on the web, go with NTFS for large hard drives.

share|improve this answer

Although I'm not a pro - I would have thought for a large drive like that one you would want to go for exFAT for two reasons.

Firstly, exFAT allows for files to be up to around 16 EiB in size. NTFS also has file size limits that are larger than any drives that will be around for a long time. FAT32 has a max file size of 4GB - so depending on what kind of files you're going to be storing this would be a point to consider.

Secondly, exFAT is read and write compatible with OS X 10.6.5 upwards, but writing to NTFS is not supported. You never know - this hard drive might last longer than you having a Windows Computer...

share|improve this answer
NTFS actually allows files up to 16 TB. You're thinking of FAT32. – romkyns Nov 19 '11 at 20:56

I vote also for NTFS. It's a more developed format with which one can do more. See for example the Everything search engine in, one of my most useful utilities.

share|improve this answer

DO NOT USE EXFAT FOR A's ruined mine, it keeps losing files and data, and it's a world of hurt man, you don't wanna mess around with it. seriously. hell, I'd try ReFS before I went back to Exfat.

share|improve this answer

Do you have any Macs around? Plan on getting a Mac? If so, you may want to use FAT.

Your best bet may be to create TWO partitions, one FAT and one NTFS. Check out EASEUS Partition Master Home Edition (Free):

share|improve this answer
He was asking about exFAT, which is not the same thing as FAT or FAT32. I would not recommend using FAT/FAT32 due to its limitations. FAT32 for example cannot handle files bigger than 4GB – Andre Miller Aug 27 '09 at 14:59
You can also install MacFuse on the Mac, and access NTFS without problems. – bert Nov 7 '09 at 14:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .