Best files system for a USB drive?

This topic was created by phuzz .

  1. phuzz Silver badge

    Best files system for a USB drive?

    I've just bought a tiny 64GB USB 3 thumb drive, which was formatted as FAT32. Today I had to move some massive PST files (a rant for another day), when I ran into the 4GB file limit of FAT32.

    Going to reformat it I found I could use exFAT, which is designed for the task, and worked fine until I tried to copy the files onto Windows XP, and had to install an update, after which it again worked fine.

    Which has all got me thinking, it used to be that FAT32 was the default format for a USB stick, because everything could read and write to it, and a 4GB+ USB drive was science fiction.

    Now, with much larger capacities available for not much money FAT32 is a bit constrained.

    NTFS is quite a good choice, it copes with large files and drives, and nowadays most things read it, but not many write to it.

    exFAT is purpose built for flash storage, and is supported for r/w by a lot of things, Windows obviously, and apparently it works fine on recent Macs as well. However on Linux you need a FUSE install, and it's not supported on the Xbox 360 or PS3 (or the XBone or PS4 I think, not much info online).

    This is a problem if you want to watch a video larger than 4GB on a console, although apparently the XBox 360 can read HFS+ partitions which is fairly ironic.

    I don't have a Mac so HFS is out, and EXT2/3/4 requires a bit of messing about to read/write on Windows.

    So, which format do you use on your USB stick? Have I missed an obvious choice?

    1. big_D Silver badge

      Re: Best files system for a USB drive?

      I think it depends on what you are using it for.

      I have a 64GB SD card in my tablet and I wanted to be able to ensure that only the owner of the files could look at them, or at permissions as needed, so I stuck with NTFS (Windows 8 tablet).

      When I am sticking to Linux, I use EXT3. If I am swapping sticks about between Windows devices, then I tend to use exFAT - I don't know anyone with an XP machine, so that isn't a problem.

  2. deannahupp369

    Use best USB port which is fine work and copy the files perfectly. Good choice always being good

  3. Widgit

    Fat degrades rather quickly and tends to corrupt large files. Potable media tends to be formatted to the lowest common denominator which is FAT. Any body will tell you media devices either by playing media or recording will report that the media needs formatting from time to time. NTFS is more reliable works well with Linux and Windows on potable media. As a file system NTFS has the best of both worlds for swamping data. Exfat is the same as NTFS only lighter (Sawn of NTFS for low powered machines).

  4. printyo

    I would recommend NTFS

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