File Systems – CompTIA A+ 220-1102 – 1.8

Most operating systems can support various file systems. In this video, you’ll learn about mosZt common use for FAT32, NTFS, ext3, ext4, and APFS file systems.

If you’ve ever installed an operating system, you may recall the process of creating partition so that you can have an area to store your files. But before any data can be stored there, you first have to format the partition with a particular file system. For example, if you’re using Windows, you may have a file system that’s been formatted with NTFS or FAT32. Or if you’re installing Linux or Mac OS, there may be file systems that are optimized for that particular operating system. And in most cases, operating systems can recognize and use many different types of file systems. And sometimes that file system is based on the media that you’re using. Other times it’s based on the capabilities of the operating system.

One of the very first file systems that we used in the PC world is the FAT file system. This is the File Allocation table. The most recent version of the File Allocation Table system is FAT32. This version of FAT supports 2 terabyte volume sizes and a maximum file size of 4 gigabytes. If you’re using a flash drive with Windows, then you’re probably using the exFAT or extended File Allocation Table file system. ExFAT can support larger files.

So if you’re using FAT32 and you’re running into some of those file size limitations, you can instead format with exFAT and save files that are larger than 4 gigabytes. ExFAT is also supported across multiple operating systems, so you can store information from a Windows computer onto an exFAT formatted flash drive and use that flash drive on other operating systems, such as Mac OS or Linux.

If you’re configuring a partition for Windows, then you’re probably formatting it with NTFS, or what’s called the NT file system. This file system supports many capabilities that you don’t find in FAT32 such as quotas, file compression built into the file system, encryption, large file support, and much more. NTFS is considered to be a Windows-centric file system. But you might find other operating systems that are at least able to read or in some ways have a limited write function to an NTFS partition. You have to check with the documentation of your operating system to see what options might be available if you’re trying to access data on an NTFS partition.

If you’re running Linux, you may find that your partition has been formatted with ext3. This is the third extended file system, and this is almost exclusive to a Unix or Linux operating system. There’s a newer version of ext3 called ex4. This is the fourth extended file system, and this is one that we commonly see today in Linux and Android operating systems.

And if you’re running Mac OS, iOS, or iPadOS, you may be using the Apple File System, or APFS. This file system has been optimized for solid state drives and includes features such as encryption, snapshots, data integrity, and of course works across all of the different Apple hardware.