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I plan to buy a 1.5TB hard drive soon. I would like to know which file system to choose from when I'm gonna format it.

With FAT32, there is a limitation concerning the maximum file size (4GB) that bugs me since I might save large files such as DVD images which are over 4GB. On the other hand, NTFS allows me to save larger files, but seems less compatible with other OS than Windows and is also proprietary to Microsoft.

Are there other alternatives ?

Can you give me your advices ?

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Don't worry about it. Almost all operating systems can read from NTFS and most, with a little help can, can also write to it. Go with NTFS! –  alex Jan 17 '10 at 16:34
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up vote 7 down vote accepted

I chose NTFS when I reformatted mine. Sure, it's windows-centric, but everything can read from it, and most things can write to it, and it's a fairly good filesystem - unlike the decidedly aged FAT32 that I would not use for a large drive, mainly because of the 4gb max file limit.

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You don't say what version of Windows you're using, but if it's Vista or 7, UDF is a viable cross-platform option. Otherwise I'd go for NTFS - the 4GB limit of FAT32 is a killer these days.

Another option would be formatting the drive as ext2, then using the Windows ext2 IFS driver. But since its limitations (including no real ext3 support) are worse than Linux's NTFS support it's hard to justify using it, especially if you rarely use Linux.

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NTFS maybe the best solution. If you don't care about some NTFS features such as encryption, compression, permission or journalling, etc. then exFAT is another choice. It's specifically designed for USB flash drive but can be used for other drive types as well, and it doesn't suffer from the 4GB file size limit as FAT32

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