exFAT – No More Limitations For FAT32 – USB Rejoice

USB stick manufacturers will rejoice with this news.  No longer will their flash memory be limited with the FAT32 file system, but rather an unlimited size of storage space.

Up to this point FAT file systems had a limitation of 4GB for a single file size and up to 32GBs for an entire volume.  But no more.  Microsoft has released a new exFAT file system.  This means our USB sticks will become supersized and no longer need to worry about dynamic file structures of NTFS.  With USB memory getting bigger each year, this is great news for mobile storage.

exfat logo

On January 27 2009, Microsoft released their new exFAT file system.  Or extended File Allocation Table [exFAT]. Here is some information off the Microsoft website:

The exFAT file system is the successor to FAT32 in the FAT family of file systems. The exFAT file system is a new file format system to address the growing demand and size of mobile storage like USB sticks, PDAs, and solid state hard drives. What’s nice about the exFAT file system is the interoperability between desktop computers, portable media devices and other storage devices.  For this reason, it’s easy to copy files between the desktop and external devices or between the desktop and other operating systems.

The exFAT file system incorporates several improvements over FAT32. However, it keeps the simplicity of FAT-based file systems. These improvements include the following key advances:

  • Support for very large files and storage devices
  • Support for performance improvements
  • Support for extensibility features for future innovation
  • Added compatibility for flash media

The exFAT file system driver brings file system support parity to the following operating systems:

  • Windows Vista
  • Windows XP
  • Windows CE

The exFAT file system has also been optimized for compatibility with flash media.  For example, the metadata on write boundaries has been aligned, or optimized for the boundaries of the device [size].  Microsoft has done the same optimization for the cluster size of these devices as well.

FAT table

This is all good news for USB flash drives as we wont need to worry about the headaches of NTFS and it’s dynamic file structure. Source:  Microsoft. Photo by Wikipedia.

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Rich Gates

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