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MCSE 2.4 Working with File Systems

The first opportunity you have to consider the appropriate uses of disk file systems arises when running the Setup Wizard, which is why we spent so much time describing it in Chapter 1, Installing Windows 2000 Professional. After installation, Microsoft gives you several utilities for configuring file systems, which we describe in this section.

Configuring File Systems

The options you have in configuring your computer's disk file systems depends upon their format(s). These can be of three varieties.


You can only use FAT with partitions of 2 GBs or less. Microsoft recommends that you use FAT only when using these smaller disk drives, and when dual-booting with older operating systems such as MS-DOS, Windows 3.1, or Windows 95.


You can use FAT32 with partitions larger than 2 GBs, and it is faster than FAT (16). Microsoft recommends that you use it when dual-booting with Windows 98 or Me, the only other two Windows versions that support it.


NTFS is the recommended choice for Windows 2000. Its primary advantages are as follow:

  • It provides strong security with both file and folder-level permissions and encryption.

  • It supports hard drives as large as 2 TBs without the corresponding loss in performance characteristic of FAT.

  • It has efficient built-in compression capabilities.

You can determine the type of file system under which a hard drive is formatted by right-clicking it in My Computer and selecting the Properties command to open the Properties dialog box. Besides being labeled as either "FAT" or "NTFS" under the General tab, you may note that an NTFS drive has Security and Quota tabs unavailable to FAT-formatted drives, as shown in Figure 2.40.

Figure 2.40Figure 2.40 FAT vs. NTFS properties.

Regardless of file system, you can configure hard drives on your system using the Storage snap-in to the MMC, as shown in Figure 2.41.

Using the utilities accessible here you can perform such tasks as creating and deleting partitions, formatting, changing drive letter designations, marking active partitions, restoring previous disk configurations (from backup info), and defragmenting.

Converting File Systems

You can convert a FAT or FAT32 partition to an NTFS partition any time without reformatting. To do so, launch the Command Prompt and use the following command:

CONVERT <drive_letter>: /FS:NTFS

It is wise to back-up your hard drive first, just in case problems arise.

You cannot convert an NTFS partition back to a FAT or FAT 32 partition without reformatting.

Figure 2.41Figure 2.41 Configuring file systems with the MMC.

Study Break

Convert a FAT drive

Practice what you have learned by converting a FAT drive.

First, back up the data on your FAT-formatted hard disk to guard against mishaps. Next, view the FAT drive's Properties dialog box. Note the options present. Next, run the CONVERT.EXE utility to convert the disk drive to NTFS. View the newly formatted drive's expanded options in the Properties dialog box. Also view the configuration options present through the Storage snap-in of the MMC.

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