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Comparing and Contrasting File Systems used by Windows - Essay Example

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A file System is based on "cluster of sectors" which is the smallest unit on a Hard Disk that an operating system can manage. A file that is saved on the hard disk comprises of a number of clusters and hence its characteristics depend upon the file system that has been chosen by the operating system…
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Comparing and Contrasting File Systems used by Windows
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Download file to see previous pages This paper presents a comparison between the key file systems used by Windows Operating System - FAT16, FAT32 & NTFS and also provides a brief introduction on Encrypted File System.
The File system in Windows can be selected at the time of installation of the Operating System, or at the time of creating a logical volume within a single physical hard disk or an array of hard disks using RAID 0, RAID 1 or RAID 5. Windows allows a very simple method to convert the file system of a logical volume from FAT 16 to FAT 32 or from FAT 32 to NTFS without taking down the server or loss of data. However, Windows doesn't allow a backward conversion from NTFS to FAT 32 or from FAT 32 to FAT 16. For a backward conversion, the disk needs to be formatted and volumes created again. The characteristics of a file managed by the Operating System in terms of size limitations & security depend upon the file system chosen. The File Allocation Table (FAT) actually is a registry of hexadecimal values that identify the location of clusters within a logical partition. This helps the operating system to locate all the clusters constituting a file. This process is important because all clusters constituting a file are not stored at one place but are distributed across the entire Hard Disk Storage (a process called Fragmentation). The OS maintains two File Allocation Tables within a cluster such that if one is corrupted, the second can be used. The FAT assigns a hexadecimal address FFF7 to a bad cluster (due to surface or magnetic errors) such that the OS is able to recognize them while collating clusters to access a file. FAT16 has some distinct disadvantages that are addressed by FAT32 and FAT32 in turn have some distinct disadvantages covered by NTFS. The following section presents the differences among the three primary file systems and introduction to the other file systems that are supported by Windows XP, Windows Vista and Windows 2000/2003.
File Systems supported by Windows XP and Windows 2000/2003:
The FAT16 in earlier versions of MS DOS used to be 2 GB of logical partition (Volume) size but with the introduction of NT by Microsoft enabled it to support 4 GB of Logical partition (Volume) size. It has two primary limitations - length of file name and size of clusters in a 2GB/4GB partition. FAT16 supports a file size of only eight characters with three extension characters. No spaces in between characters were allowed. Moreover, the minimum cluster size in a 2GB/4GB partition is 32 KB. This lead to lot of wastage of disk space because file sizes of a few KBs used to block 32 KB clusters (A cluster cannot be shared; it is always dedicated to a file). THE FAT16 file system supported limited entries in the boot file and limited number of files per directory. These limitations of FAT16 were eliminated by Microsoft by ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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