Partition Magic, FAT32, NTFS, cluster size conversion advice here (long post)

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NudeEmperor

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Oct 19, 2001, 9:52:52 PM10/19/01
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I have previously posted about my belief that NTFS is not the 'catch
all' solution that people seem to think it is and so I won't bore
people again with further details as to why I believe FAT32 is
potentially 50% faster for most home users. Of course the
compression/security/recoverability advantages of NTFS may win the
argument for those who really need them and who place a higher value
on them than raw speed.

Because of my aforementioned minority conviction I attempted to
convert my XP boot partition back to FAT32 and had great difficulty,
even using Partition Magic. I finally achieved it the hard way; by
trial and lots of error. What follows are instructions and
considerations for both that and the process involved in achiving a 4k
cluster size on NTFS:

1) If you make a decision to go to NTFS and you don't have access to a
third party partition manager then you cannot go back to FAT32 without
doing a complete reformat (and a complete re-install of XP if you've
trying to convert the boot partition). In this situation you need to
be very sure that you're making the right decision. I'd suggest
converting a non boot partition to NTFS and get a handle on the
performance hit on that before proceeding to conversion of the boot
partition.

2) If you install XP on a FAT32 partition and THEN convert to NTFS
using the Microsoft 'convert' utility, you will (almost certainly; see
below) get a cluster size of 512K. This makes NTFS anything up to 5
times less efficient in terms of speed than FAT32. The accepted wisdom
(with all the reservations that involves) is that the most efficient
cluster size in most cases is 4K. Without a third party partition
manager your are now stuck with a very inefficient file system.

3) If you don't have access to a third party partition manager then
you should reformat your boot partition to NTFS BEFORE you install XP.
Even without Partition Magic (I gather) you can specify (or at least
have a greater say) in the cluster size. I'm not au fait with this
process (because I made the mistake of trying to convert afterwards
when it was too late). Have a look at other posts for advice on this.

4) If you have Partition Magic 7 and you've already converted to NTFS
(and have a cluster size of 512K) then Partition Magic will NOT allow
you to change the cluster size directly. Partition Magic has always
been a great program but the downside has always been that the
documentation and the facilities are obtuse to say the least. You have
to know what you're doing. There is no reason why the developers
couldn't have included a facility to allow this directly because it's
achievable using a few extra (albeit obscure) steps (at least with
version 7):

a) Firstly you have to go back to FAT32 (and I would advise you to
stay there if you are a speed conscious home user!). If you try to do
this using the Partition Magic 'Convert' option you will be allowed to
request the operation but in most cases the attempt fails (usually
with error 1681) becauseXP will have created NTFS compressed
files/folders and Partition Magic has a blind inability to convert
these automatically.

b) You must firstly manually decompress all compressed objects on the
partition. If you try this with Explorer you will find yourself
looking for needles in the haystack The best way to achieve this is to
follow the instructions at Powerquest (hidden in the site's depths, as
is usual for all useful information from Powerquest) at
http://www.powerquest.com/support/primus/id1062.html Here they suggest
issuing the following command at the XP Command Prompt from the root
folder of the partition in question:

COMPACT /U /S /I /F *.*

c) Now Partition Magic should allow you to convert to FAT32.

d) Having got back to FAT32 you will probably find that you have a
FAT32 cluster size of 512K (it will maintain the original NTFS cluster
size). You must change it to 4K. (Advanced -> Resize clusters). If you
don't do this then when converting back to NTFS, MS 'convert' will
assume that you want to maintain your previous cluster size.

d) Now you must convert to 'FAT32 4K aligned' (Partition Magic speak
in the 'convert' menu)). This basically pads out the sectors in the
system area so that the first FAT32 cluster starts after a number of
sectors which is divisible by eight. The MS 'convert' utility is
basically too stupid to do this by itself and tries to compensate by
creating 512K clusters.when converting to NTFS, so you'll be back
where you started.

e) You can now either issue the MS 'convert' command directly or use
the Partition Magic facility to convert back to NTFS. It doesn't
matter which, since Partition Magic invokes the MS command in any
case.

f) You should now find you have an NTFS cluster size of 4K. Doing a
defrag would be a good idea at this stage

I've spent HOURS trying to work this one out and I'm fed up with the
whole issue but I'd still be interested to know if anyone manages to
achieve a larger cluster size using this method. Also please post if
anyone can comment on the ability of other partition managers to
achieve the above.

Oh! and for the record, I still find on my setup that the resulting
NTFS partition is still one third slower than FAT32 using Sandra
(which I just got a copy of) and/or www.pcpitstop.com benchmark
tools. I'm still at a loss to find ANY benchmark tools which I can get
my hands on which prove otherwise and which support the accepted
wisdom that NTFS is actually faster. Having said that, an NTFS 4K
cluster size is anything up to twice as fast as 512k.


Esteban

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Oct 19, 2001, 11:22:35 PM10/19/01
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Thanks for the detailed description of the steps involved. I'm sold -
staying with FAT32.

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Chris

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Oct 20, 2001, 12:03:27 AM10/20/01
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I don't see a performance difference at all, except that NTFS may be a bit
quicker. I reformatted to NTFS and don't think I would go back to FAT32.
Also it only takes 30 minutes to defrag, as opposed to 6 hours with FAT32.
But I don't know what my cluster size is. Is there somewhere I can see what
it is?? I didn't use partition magic, I just booted from XP cd and
formatted to NTFS.

Also, when you boot from XP cd, and choose the format style, what is the
difference between the NTFS(quick) and the NTFS(normal)????


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Jeff I.

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Oct 20, 2001, 6:33:45 AM10/20/01
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NTFS is proven faster in drives larger than 8gb & with NTFS you will never,
ever lose a bit of data, unless of course your hard drive craps the bed.
Cheers - Jeff

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NudeEmperor

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Oct 20, 2001, 6:30:09 AM10/20/01
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Ooops! Thanks to Mr Cecil; 512K should for course read 512 bytes tin
the following diatribe!!!!

NudeEmperor

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Oct 20, 2001, 7:02:56 AM10/20/01
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On Fri, 19 Oct 2001 23:03:27 -0500, "Chris" <cc3...@swbell.net> wrote:

>I don't see a performance difference at all, except that NTFS may be a bit
>quicker.

Whether it be nobler to benchtest or not to benchtest; or suffer the
outgagous fortunes of crass subjectivity?

> I reformatted to NTFS and don't think I would go back to FAT32.
>Also it only takes 30 minutes to defrag, as opposed to 6 hours with FAT32.
>But I don't know what my cluster size is. Is there somewhere I can see what
>it is?? I didn't use partition magic, I just booted from XP cd and
>formatted to NTFS.

To establish cluster size go to the Command Prompt and run chkdsk for
the drive letter in question.You're right, I can't find it anywhere on
a GUI display. Obviously Microsoft don't think disk performance is
very important.

>Also, when you boot from XP cd, and choose the format style, what is the
>difference between the NTFS(quick) and the NTFS(normal)????
>

As far as I'm aware Quick format doesn't actually wipe the whole disk
or test for bad sectors.

NudeEmperor

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Oct 20, 2001, 8:05:23 AM10/20/01
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On Sat, 20 Oct 2001 06:33:45 -0400, "Jeff I."
<w...@nospamoptonline.net> wrote:

>NTFS is proven faster in drives larger than 8gb & with NTFS you will never,
>ever lose a bit of data, unless of course your hard drive craps the bed.
>Cheers - Jeff

Am...er.....here we go again but the temptation is too much:

My NTFS 8.1 Gb partition registers one third slower in Sandra (against
a similar sized FAT32 partition on the same drive). I'm not saying you
aren't right; I'm saying that blanket statements that NTFS is faster
are far from the truth and a result of an unsubstantiated accepted
wisdom. NTFS seems to be faster on some specific operations; FAT32 on
others. The trick is to establish which is faster in 'typical' use. A
blind belief by speed conscious home users that moving from Windows
95, 98 or ME to XP should also involve a move to NTFS is very mistaken
and fuelled primarily by a irrational desire to adopt 'new' technology
just for the sake of it. I would really like to be proved wrong
because that would mean that NTFS is a 'win/win' solution and we could
just forget about the issue. Unfortunately it's not and we can't.

Jeff I.

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Oct 20, 2001, 9:49:02 AM10/20/01
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Are you splitting the atom on your pc? didn't think so, so give up a
millisecond of speed for the security of NTFS (the recommended file system
for xp) and I'll say it again,,,NTFS is faster, you shouldn't rely on Sandra
for your benchmarking(everyone knows that!)
Cheers
PS the speed of ntfs increases the larger a drive gets,,at 8.1 you would
barely notice a difference, but who uses drives that small anyway?, they
would all be old and slow!
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Jeff I.

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Oct 20, 2001, 9:51:16 AM10/20/01
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BTW, NEW!,,NTFS has been around a while.
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BillG

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Oct 20, 2001, 12:56:47 PM10/20/01
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Who uses Fat32 and 8.1 Gig partitions? Stupid old farts that Like It.
That's who. And BTW what do you really know about "splitting atoms" on a PC
or with a meat cleaver or anything else anyway?

--

BG
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NudeEmperor

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Oct 20, 2001, 2:37:35 PM10/20/01
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On Sat, 20 Oct 2001 09:49:02 -0400, "Jeff I."
<w...@nospamoptonline.net> wrote:

>Are you splitting the atom on your pc? didn't think so, so give up a
>millisecond of speed for the security of NTFS (the recommended file system
>for xp) and I'll say it again,,,NTFS is faster, you shouldn't rely on Sandra
>for your benchmarking(everyone knows that!)

Silly me.....Ok....let me get this right; YOU say it is so and
therefore it is so. I say it probably isn't so AND provide two
benchmarks to add to my case but I'm wrong. Another oh so dense brick
gets laid in the towering wall of 'accepted wisdom'.


>Cheers
>PS the speed of ntfs increases the larger a drive gets,,at 8.1 you would
>barely notice a difference, but who uses drives that small anyway?, they
>would all be old and slow!

I was talking 'partitions' not 'drives' and I HAVE noticed a
difference AND it's not one of NTFS being faster.

I'm prepared to be convinced though. Please point me in the direction
of some benchmarks on which your accepted wisdom is based. I'm not
prepared to agree with you just becasue you (and most of the 'expert'
opinion on here) say it is so and I urge others deciding between NTFS
and FAT32 to do likewise. Also, I think it is AT LEAST true to say
that there are SOME situations in which FAT32 is faster. Even
'everyone' knows that.

Jeff I.

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Oct 20, 2001, 6:16:30 PM10/20/01
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See my partners at www.Tomshardware.com
<NudeEmperor> wrote in message
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Jeff I.

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Oct 20, 2001, 6:19:34 PM10/20/01
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NTFS OVERVIEW
From a user's point of view, NTFS continues to organize files into
directories, which, like HPFS, are sorted. However, unlike FAT or HPFS,
there are no "special" objects on the disk and there is no dependence on the
underlying hardware, such as 512 byte sectors. In addition, there are no
special locations on the disk, such as FAT tables or HPFS Super Blocks.

The goals of NTFS are to provide:


a.. Reliability, which is especially desirable for high end systems and
file servers


b.. A platform for added functionality


c.. Support POSIX requirements


d.. Removal of the limitations of the FAT and HPFS file systems


Reliability
To ensure reliability of NTFS, three major areas were addressed:
recoverability, removal of fatal single sector failures, and hot fixing.

NTFS is a recoverable file system because it keeps track of transactions
against the file system. When a CHKDSK is performed on FAT or HPFS, the
consistency of pointers within the directory, allocation, and file tables is
being checked. Under NTFS, a log of transactions against these components is
maintained so that CHKDSK need only roll back transactions to the last
commit point in order to recover consistency within the file system.

Under FAT or HPFS, if a sector that is the location of one of the file
system's special objects fails, then a single sector failure will occur.
NTFS avoids this in two ways: first, by not using special objects on the
disk and tracking and protecting all objects that are on the disk. Secondly,
under NTFS, multiple copies (the number depends on the volume size) of the
Master File Table are kept.

Similar to OS/2 versions of HPFS, NTFS supports hot fixing.


Added Functionality
One of the major design goals of Windows NT at every level is to provide a
platform that can be added to and built upon, and NTFS is no exception. NTFS
provides a rich and flexible platform for other file systems to be able to
use. In addition, NTFS fully supports the Windows NT security model and
supports multiple data streams. No longer is a data file a single stream of
data. Finally, under NTFS, a user can add his or her own user-defined
attributes to a file.


POSIX Support
NTFS is the most POSIX.1 compliant of the supported file systems because it
supports the following POSIX.1 requirements:

Case Sensitive Naming:

Under POSIX, README.TXT, Readme.txt, and readme.txt are all different files.

Additional Time Stamp:

The additional time stamp supplies the time at which the file was last
accessed.

Hard Links:

A hard link is when two different filenames, which can be located in
different directories, point to the same data.


Removing Limitations
First, NTFS has greatly increased the size of files and volumes, so that
they can now be up to 2^64 bytes (16 exabytes or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616
bytes). NTFS has also returned to the FAT concept of clusters in order to
avoid HPFS problem of a fixed sector size. This was done because Windows NT
is a portable operating system and different disk technology is likely to be
encountered at some point. Therefore, 512 bytes per sector was viewed as
having a large possibility of not always being a good fit for the
allocation. This was accomplished by allowing the cluster to be defined as
multiples of the hardware's natural allocation size. Finally, in NTFS all
filenames are Unicode based, and 8.3 filenames are kept along with long
filenames.


Advantages of NTFS
NTFS is best for use on volumes of about 400 MB or more. This is because
performance does not degrade under NTFS, as it does under FAT, with larger
volume sizes.

The recoverability designed into NTFS is such that a user should never have
to run any sort of disk repair utility on an NTFS partition. For additional
advantages of NTFS, see the following:


a.. Microsoft Windows NT Server "Concepts and Planning Guide," Chapter 5,
section titled "Choosing a File System"


b.. Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Resource Kit, Chapter 18,
"Choosing a File System"


c.. Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit "Resource Guide," Chapter
3, section titled "Which File System to Use on Which Volumes"


Disadvantages of NTFS
It is not recommended to use NTFS on a volume that is smaller than
approximately 400 MB, because of the amount of space overhead involved in
NTFS. This space overhead is in the form of NTFS system files that typically
use at least 4 MB of drive space on a 100 MB partition.

Currently, there is no file encryption built into NTFS. Therefore, someone
can boot under MS-DOS, or another operating system, and use a low-level disk
editing utility to view data stored on an NTFS volume.

It is not possible to format a floppy disk with the NTFS file system;
Windows NT formats all floppy disks with the FAT file system because the
overhead involved in NTFS will not fit onto a floppy disk.

For further discussion of NTFS disadvantages, see the following:


a.. Microsoft Windows NT Server "Concepts and Planning Guide," Chapter 5,
section titled "Choosing a File System"


b.. Microsoft Windows NT Workstation 4.0 Resource Kit, Chapter 18,
"Choosing a File System"


c.. Microsoft Windows NT Server 4.0 Resource Kit "Resource Guide," Chapter
3, section titled "Which File System to Use on Which Volumes"


NTFS Naming Conventions
File and directory names can be up to 255 characters long, including any
extensions. Names preserve case, but are not case sensitive. NTFS makes no
distinction of filenames based on case. Names can contain any characters
except for the following:


? " / \ &lt; &gt; * | :


Currently, from the command line, you can only create file names of up to
253 characters.

NOTE: Underlying hardware limitations may impose additional partition size
limitations in any file system. Particularly, a boot partition can be only
7.8 GB in size, and there is a 2-terabyte limitation in the partition table.

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Jeff I.

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Oct 20, 2001, 6:22:40 PM10/20/01
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It's what I do for a living.
Cheers
"BillG" <usin...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
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ultra

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Oct 20, 2001, 7:45:10 PM10/20/01
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On Sat, 20 Oct 2001 12:02:56 +0100, NudeEmperor <NudeEmperor> wrote:

>To establish cluster size go to the Command Prompt and run chkdsk for
>the drive letter in question.You're right, I can't find it anywhere on
>a GUI display. Obviously Microsoft don't think disk performance is
>very important.

You CAN find the cluster size in the GUI. Go to Disk Defragmenter and click
ANALYZE on any drive. Click on VIEW REPORT after it's done and cluster size is
near the top.

>As far as I'm aware Quick format doesn't actually wipe the whole disk
>or test for bad sectors.

More specifically, Quick Format doesn't zero out all the sectors on the
hardrive (in addition to not testing for bad sectors).

ultra

NudeEmperor

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Oct 20, 2001, 8:37:53 PM10/20/01
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On Sat, 20 Oct 2001 18:19:34 -0400, "Jeff I."
<w...@nospamoptonline.net> wrote:

>NTFS OVERVIEW
>From a user's point of view, NTFS continues to organize files into

......<snip>.............<snip>.........


Thanks, but a little off our topic.

BillG

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Oct 20, 2001, 11:43:12 PM10/20/01
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Right.....

--

BG
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"Jeff I." <w...@nospamoptonline.net> wrote in message

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Jeff I.

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Oct 21, 2001, 8:50:38 AM10/21/01
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Ah,,I see. I read a lot of your past post and it's clear what I'm
dealing with. You obviously have some sort of bone to pick with NTFS so I'll
leave it a lone for you, but most other people should and probably will
realize the advantages of NTFS. And unlike you, they will probably think
about it a little more before they convert. And as for going back to Fat32,
it's easy, do a parallel install of XP on another partition, back up the
ntfs partition, then format fat32 and restore the data. I've done that
before to change the cluster size of a converted NTFS drive (512) to 4k (
the desired size).
<NudeEmperor> wrote in message
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dR Pepper

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Oct 21, 2001, 11:58:30 PM10/21/01
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Ah, so you've finally decided to give Windows XP a whirl? Whether
we like it or not, the OS will be pre-installed on just about
every new machine that comes off of the assembly line. If you're
taking a valid upgrade path, you're going to face a tough decision
soon: FAT32 or NTFS? The installation routine will ask you if you
want to change your file system. If you're unsure, stick with
FAT32. You can always convert at a later time within Windows XP.
Anyway, let's go over some pros and cons, shall we? FAT32 was the
successor to FAT (FAT16), which enabled newer, larger hard drives
to be recognized by DOS / Windows. It also shrank cluster sizes
considerably. This particular number depends on the overall size
of the drive (virtual or not); the smaller the cluster, the less
hard drive space is wasted. Have you ever right-clicked on a file,
see that it weighs in at a measly 523 bytes, but it takes up a
whopping 32 kilobytes?! That's due to the drive's large cluster
size, most likely on a large hard disk which hasn't been
partitioned into (smaller) virtual drives. Just one of the reasons
why Partition Magic is a dream come true for those who want to get
the most out of their hard drive(s).

FAT32 is also unsecure; true encryption can't take place at the
system level. NTFS, on the other hand, not only boasts smaller
cluster sizes, but it also allows you to set permissions for any
file or folder on your drive(s). You don't want your daughter
messing with anything in this folder? Done. Don't want your
husband to see this file? Done. But, again, this is only for those
using NTFS. Sounds great, doesn't it? Yeah, it's awesome - but
it's also slower than FAT32. The difference isn't supremely
noticeable, but there's definitely a slight performance tradeoff.
To tell you the truth, most - if not all - of my problems with the
two hard drives in my system disappeared when I formatted them
(non-destructively) to NTFS. I haven't looked back. Might wanna
double-check your third-party system tools to make sure they'll
work on something other than FAT. And before you ask, yes... NTFS
drives can interact with FAT32 drives. Furo compresses his MP3
collection because they don't need to be read very quickly from
the disk in order to play well, and it saves him at least some
space. He'd never compress any database files or other data that
depends on faster read / write performance. There are actually
some situations where a slow disk and fast processor can result in
slightly faster performance when reading / writing compressed
data. This is because the data is read from the disk in smaller
chunks, then decompressed by the fast processor.

dR Pepper

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Oct 22, 2001, 12:03:10 AM10/22/01
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I'm running an 8g, 300mh wondering if I should try xp and would I
notice a difference in the fat32 and ntfs?
Rc

On Sat, 20 Oct 2001 09:49:02 -0400, "Jeff I."

dR Pepper

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Oct 22, 2001, 12:04:28 AM10/22/01
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8.1g, thats the whole hard drive size!! I'm only using 1/3 of it so
why have anything larger and have all that wasted space!??
rc
On Sat, 20 Oct 2001 11:56:47 -0500, "BillG" <usin...@hotmail.com>
wrote:

Daniel G. Kulinitch

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Oct 22, 2001, 12:41:03 PM10/22/01
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One very good reason to go to NTFS file system is the security enhancments
you get from the it...That alone should be enough unless your not worried
about that at all....

Dan
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Jeff I.

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Oct 22, 2001, 2:55:41 PM10/22/01
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And how!
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