Most of the time formatting a flash drive is a very simple decision. There are only two situations where you should take consideration on what format to use. Here are the details:
Note: This article is focused towards Windows and Mac operating systems.
The file formats available for a flash drive are:
- FAT (also called FAT16)
- HFS (Mac only)
Flash drive manufacturers format a drive as either FAT or FAT32. Any device of 2GBs or smaller will be formatted as FAT and any USB over 2GBs will be formatted as FAT32.
These two formats are the best file system for removable drives like flash drives because they support the quick disconnect function and chances are very slim you will destroy the device or files if you unplug the USB without using the Eject function (in Windows) or Un-mount function (in Mac).
The one huge limitation with FAT and FAT32 is the single file size limitation. If a single file is larger than
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.
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