I want to transfer few hundred GBs of .mkv files from my Linux ext4 file system to a NTFS formatted external hard drive and since I'm a multimedia major, I can't really afford to have any quality loss in between, even if I'm transferring the file for the first time.

I Googled this question and what I found is that there's a generation loss when we copy data from a source to a destination. However, I'm not entirely sure whether that statement means a copy paste with compression or just a basic copy paste in our PC.

Also, the page doesn't mention anything between two different file systems. What I want to know is that will there be a generation loss if we simple copy paste a file from a source to a destination, in same file system(out of curiosity) and different file systems(the answer I need currently)?


4 Answers 4


When a file is copied between different filesystem types, the content isn't changed, only the way the file is written to disk. So you won't see any change in quality.


Copying a digital file would not incur a generation loss. Simply copy and pasting won't cause any degradation in quality, and the source and destination will be identical in their content assuming there are no errors in transfer.

Analog copies more often than not would result in some loss of quality. Additionally, re-ripping or transcoding digital content to another format can also result in a loss of quality, and this is likely the type of digital 'copy' you may have seen.

Copying data from one file system to another would be fine.


A file system is just an abstraction layer so that humans can pretend that your computer is storing files and folders rather than just a bunch of 0's and 1's chaotically thrown on a platter of a disk.

When files are copied between two file systems those 0's and 1's are always the same. The only thing that changes is the file systems metadata regarding how that data is stored.


The integrity of the data is maintained using the TCP/IP stack. TCP ALWAYS maintains the integrity of data with no data loss. So copying data will not incur any data loss. However, if using the UDP protocol, then the integrity is not maintained. You can lose data using UDP. However, all copy functions use TCP/IP, so you do not have to worry.

Also, if transferring from NTFS file system to a different file system, then no data loss will occur but since Linux does not understand NTFS, then security ACLs will not be preserved.

  • While it’s certainly true that TCP has built-in checksum verification, you can recreate that functionality with UDP. It’s also not true that all “copy functions” use TCP. There are many file transfer programs that use UDP, so they can control more aspects of the transmission.
    – Daniel B
    Jan 11, 2016 at 7:56
  • @DanielB Exactly. 3rd party applications have to force UDP. I mentioned that all copy functions outside of using 3rd party apps do not use UDP. Jan 11, 2016 at 7:59
  • Nothing about selecting UDP is “forcing”. You also did not mention what “copy functions” you’re talking about at all.
    – Daniel B
    Jan 11, 2016 at 9:33
  • @DanielB The end-user was discussing a basic copy operation and not 3rd party applications. Therefore, it's only right to assume a standard copy was being initiated. And by all means, MOST application use TCP/IP. Please point out applications that use UDP for transferring data???? I would love to see an application that emphasizes using UDP to transfer data. Logically, it does not make sense. Thank you! Jan 12, 2016 at 2:58

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