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This chapter is from the book

Using Supported File Systems

Windows Server 2003 supports the entire range of file systems supported by Microsoft operating systems. This ability was first introduced with Windows 2000 Server.

You can have FAT, FAT32, and NTFS partitions or volumes on your server's hard drives. A description of each file system follows:

  • FAT—FAT volumes use a file allocation table that provides the name of the file and the location of the actual clusters that make up the file on the hard drive. FAT is a holdover from the days of DOS. I see no compelling reason to use FAT volumes on your servers.

  • FAT32—FAT32 is an extension of the FAT file system. It uses disk space on a drive more efficiently than FAT and was designed for Windows 95/98.

  • NTFS—NTFS 5 is the newest version of the NT file system (NTFS 5 was first introduced with Windows 2000 Server). It provides increased security for files on NTFS volumes and supports more robust file system recovery. Microsoft recommends that you use NTFS as your file system on your Windows servers. It is also required if you want to install Active Directory on a server to make it a domain controller.

It really makes sense to use NTFS volumes on your servers unless you need to create a dual-boot server on which a legacy operating system requires a FAT or FAT32 partition to run on the server. Actually, in most cases, it doesn't make sense to deploy a server on a network that was configured for dual-boot. NTFS provides the stability, the security, and other bells and whistles that makes it the appropriate choice for your server drive implementations.


Even the Home edition of Windows XP now supports NTFS volumes. FAT is definitely a file system antique. Although FAT32 is still recommended for home users, we might see its demise as newer desktop versions of Windows are released.

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