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Identifying FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS File Systems and partitions

September 10th, 2009

File systems How can I tell what type of file system (FAT16, FAT32, NTFS) my drive is formatted in?

To identify what type of file system the drive is formatted in:

  1. Click on the Start button and select Computer if using Windows Vista, My Computer if using Windows XP or 2000, or Windows Explorer if using Windows Me or 98.
  2. Right-click on the drive letter you want to check.
  3. Click on the Properties option from the pull down menu. A window will appear with the type of file system you have. If you do not see any information regarding FAT16, FAT32, or NTFS in the window that means the drive is formatted in FAT16.

Notes:

  1. Partitions created with the FAT16 file system have a size limitation of 2,048 MB (2.1 GB).
  2. Microsoft first started supporting the FAT32 file system with the release of Windows 95B (a.k.a. OSR2), circa 1997.
  3. When booting from Windows 95A, a Windows 95A startup disk, or any version of MS-DOS, a FAT32 partition will appear as a NON-DOS partition in FDISK.
  4. FAT32 partitions have a theoretical partition size limitation of 2 terabytes (TB). However, new partitions created by either Windows Vista, Windows XP, or Windows 2000 will limit their size to 32 gigabytes (GB). To create partitions greater than 32 GB under Windows Vista, XP, or 2000, you will need to format them using the NTFS file system (or create multiple FAT 32 partitions for drives greater than 32GB).
  5. Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and Windows NT all support the NTFS file system. Windows 2000, XP, and Vista can both support the FAT32 and NTFS file systems, however Windows Vista cannot be installed on a FAT32 partition. Windows NT cannot support FAT32 partitions.
  6. MaxBlast and DiscWizard allow FAT32 partitioning of a drive larger than 32GB.
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