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Lesson 5Selecting a file system
Objective Determine when to use NTFS/ FAT

Selecting File System - NTFS or FAT during Setup

How do I determine when to use NTFS or FAT during setup? After you create the partition on which you will install Windows, Setup allows you to select the file system with which to format the partition. Windows supports the NTFS, FAT (technically known as FAT16), and FAT32 file systems.
The following MouseOver summarizes when each system is most appropriate.

  1. Using the NTFS file system: If you choose to format the partition as NTFS, you can take advantage of local file system security as well as granular folder and file level security.
  2. Using the FAT file system: Choose to format the partition with the FAT file system only if you wish to use other operating systems such as DOS, Windows® 95, or Windows® 98 and they need to access this partition. Also choose FAT if you are running Windows a multiboot machine with these other operating systems.


File System during Setup


Use NTFS for partitions that require the elements shown in the following illustration:
NTFS file system

Windows and Windows NT are the only operating systems that can access data on a local hard disk that is formatted with NTFS.
You must take care when you choose to dual boot Windows NT 4.0 and Windows. Windows will upgrade existing NTFS partitions automatically to NTFS 5.0. If you have Windows NT 4.0 installed on the same computer in a dual-boot configuration, it will not be able to read NTFS 5.0 partitions, and if the boot partition for the Windows NT 4.0 installation is on an NTFS partition, you will not be able to start Windows NT 4.0. You can prevent this by installing Service Pack 4 or above in the Windows NT 4.0 installation before installing Windows.

FAT and FAT32

Normally, you would not format the partition on which Windows resides with FAT or FAT32 unless you require a dual-boot configuration, as illustrated in the image below.
When to use FAT

What is a dual-boot configuration?

A dual-boot configuration allows you to choose between two or more operating systems each time you restart the computer. When the operating system starts, a display appears for a specified number of seconds, allowing you to select between the operating systems.
Windows is a great boon to users who wish to dual boot machines that have Windows 95 or Windows 98 installed and have the primary active partition formatted as FAT32.
Windows NT 4.0 does not support FAT32 and cannot be dual booted with operating systems that have the primary active partition formatted as FAT32.
However, FAT and FAT32 do not offer the security features that NTFS provides.

If files are on an NTFS partition, security can be set for those files so that only a specific user can access them, and no one else.
If those files are on a FAT or FAT32 partition, you cannot secure those files locally (that is, you cannot restrict someone who is actually sitting at that computer from accessing them).
The Windows Setup program does not support partitions larger than 2 GB.
If you attempt to format a partition larger than 2 GB with FAT, Setup automatically formats the partition with FAT32.
In the next lesson, licensing mode selection will be discussed.