NTFS vs FAT32 vs exFAT File Systems

A file system is a process that manages how and where data on a storage disk is stored, accessed and managed. Typically manages operations, such as storage management, file naming, directories/folders, metadata, access rules and privileges.

There are many types of files systems available for different storage options. Here in this article we will be comparing only three most popular disk file systems FAT32, NTFS, and exFAT.

Comparison NTFS vs FAT32 vs exFAT File Systems


Compatibility: Windows, Mac, Linux, gaming consoles, practically any device with a USB port.

Pros: Cross-platform compatibility, lightweight.

Cons: Limited file size (upto 4GB) and partition size (upto 16TB)

Usage: Removable storage devices.


Compatibility: Windows, Mac (by default read-only or install Paragon NTFS for Mac or Tuxera NTFS for Mac to gain access to write function), Linux (read-only for some distributions), Microsoft Xbox One.

Pros: Inexhaustible limits for file and partition size.

Cons: Limited cross-platform compatibility.

Usage: Best for internal hard drives. Use it for Windows system drive and any other system partition which may be used to install software.


Compatibility: Windows XP and later versions, Mac OSX 10.6.5 and above, Linux (using FUSE), Android.

Pros: Behaves as a fusion between FAT32 and NTFS by providing practically unlimited file size and partition size.

Cons: Microsoft restricts its usage by license obligations.

Usage: Use with external hard drives or flash drives or if you want to transfer files larger than 4 GB. Always prefer exFAT over FAT32 if the operating supports it.