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File systems:

FAT32

FAT32 (File Allocation Table) is a file system, developed by Microsoft Corporation. It is the variety of FAT.


FAT32 is the latest version of FAT file system and the improvement of the preceding version, known as FAT16. It was designed to overcome size limitation of FAT16 volume and allowed to use the old MS-DOS program code maintaining the format. FAT32 uses the 32-bit addressing of clusters. It appeared together with Windows 95 OSR2.

Logical limit

In theory, FAT32 can support up to 268 435 438 clusters, allowing to use hard disks with a capacity of approximately 2 TB. However, because of ScanDisk utility limitations (the reason is that Windows 98 supports only LBA28, not LBA48) FAT32 is limited by a capacity of 124,55 GB. Windows 2000 and Windows XP are not able to create larger than 32 GB FAT32 partitions. But the other versions don’t have such restrictions; the reasons of this are not clear.

Files in FAT32

Maximally possible file size for FAT32 volume is 4 GB – 1 byte (232-1 byte). FAT32 does not support setting of permissions to access files and folders and some other functions of the modern file systems. All these reasons resulted in the tendency of FAT32 rejection in favour of more advanced NTFS file system.


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