Computer Performance

Partitions - FAT or NTFS?

How much FAT do you have!

Best Practice (Litmus Test)

Professionals: Format every partition with NTFS

Amateurs use FAT32 where ever possible


NTFS Partitions

The traditional reason to use NTFS was for file level security.  However, the number one reason that I recommend NTFS on all partitions is, NTFS has 'write ahead' logs which protect the file system.  This transaction logging, is similar to the method that databases use to record events before they are committed to disk.

There are more technical benefits to formatting NTFS:

  • Faster recovery through checkpoint files
  • More efficient storage of smaller files
  • More efficient indexing
  • Faster file access, especially for large disks

NTFS is a pre-requisite for important Windows 2000 features:

  • Active Directory.  NTDS.dit and its logs must all reside on NTFS
  • Disk Quotas
  • Mount Points - useful when your c:\ drive is full
  • EFS (Encrypted File System)
  • DFS (Distributed File System)
  • See more on ReFS Filesystem

Neither FAT nor FAT32 can support any of the above features.  The only indisputable advantage of FAT32 is that you can dual boot into Window 98 - not much of an advantage for a server!

Amateurs Dual Boot on the Same Partition

Dual booting two operating systems on only one drive is more of a masochistic challenge than a serious computing exercise.  Read my other articles; I do things other techies frown upon, but dual booting on one partition is a step too far even for me, the operating systems just confuse, or even corrupt one-another.

Professionals Create a Second PartitionHow to Shrink a Partition

If you only have one huge C: drive and you want to dual boot, all is not lost.  While you could use 3rd party products such as Partition Magic, it's simpler to use Windows 7's own Disk Management to shrink the one drive, and thus generate pure free space to create a second disk partition.

  • Launch the Windows Explorer
  • Right-click Computer
  • Manage
  • Disk Management
  • Right-click C:\
  • Shrink Volume (See screenshot)
  • Mission accomplished.  You have free space for a new partition.
  • See more about dual booting

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Command Console (CMDCONS)

For some (amateur) administrators the last stronghold of FAT was the c:\ drive. These Luddites insisted on formatting the c: drive as FAT or FAT 32.  Their justification is :  'so that we can copy files from floppy'.  Guy says: 'Try the Command Console'.  Get the Windows 2000 CD and install with winnt32 \cmdcons.'  With CMDCONS you can boot into a dos like shell and read and copy to NTFS partitions.  You can also stop or start services that maybe preventing a boot.

Note: Do not confuse Command Console with F8 Safe mode, they are two different start up strategies.


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Litmus TestsOver 40 of Guy's litmus tests.  Have fun while you learn about aspects of computing.  Stacks of ideas to check your servers, networks and security.

Your eBook has printer friendly pages and lots more screen shots.

 

Litmus Tests

Guy's Litmus test is a concept that you can apply anywhere.  Each test gives you an instant answer to the simple question:-  'Are you dealing with a professional, or are they an amateur?   Is this the real deal, or is it a turkey?'   The Litmus Test concept is rather like Best Practice, but it reduces a 27 page report to one sentence. 

Try another of my Litmus tests »


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