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Difference Between exFAT and FAT32

exFAT vs FAT32

FAT32 (32 Bit File Allocation Table) is arguably the most popular file system in the world today. Despite its inferiority to current file systems, it is still in use today in many devices. exFAT is a proposed replacement for FAT32 that addresses many of its limitations. The main difference between exFAT and FAT32 is their maximum capacities. exFAT can theoretically be used for partitions of up to 64ZB but 512TB is the recommended level. In comparison, FAT32 has a maximum theoretical partition size of 16TB with 32GB being the more typical size.

It is not only the space of the partition that is limited with FAT32. FAT32 cannot hold files that have a size of 4GB or more. It might seem large for a single file, but if you frequently archive things like videos and high-resolution photos, 4GB is relatively small. exFAT does have a file size limit, but it is set at 16EB or 1 million TB; a value hundreds of thousands of times the current biggest hard drives.

One of the major flaws of FAT32 is the rapid fragmentation of files. This is because the constant creation and deletion of files creates noncontiguous areas of free space. When large files are placed into these spaces, they are broken into many pieces to fit. exFAT uses a free space bitmap just like other modern file systems. This allows exFAT to find contiguous space where the file will fit, thereby reducing the occurrence of fragmentation.

As FAT32 has been around much longer, it is understandable why it has the greatest amount of support from devices. Virtually all computer operating systems support FAT32 as well standalone devices like TVs, media players, and such. exFAT isn’t recognized by many operating systems, especially older ones, and is virtually unused in standalone electronics. exFAT may gradually be accepted as larger capacity cards begin to appear, but it is yet to be seen.

Something that is also worth noting is the limitation that exFAT sets on the number of files you can have in a given directory. It is set at just over 2.7 million files which is still a pretty large number. In comparison, FAT32 doesn’t impose such a limit. Instead, it is the number of clusters that limit the number of files as two files cannot occupy a single cluster.


1.exFAT allows for higher drive capacities than FAT32.
2.exFAT has a larger file size limit than FAT32.
3.exFAT uses a free space bitmap while Fat32 doesn’t.
4.FAT32 has greater support than exFAT.
5.FAT32 doesn’t have file number limits while exFAT does.

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  1. Hi
    This description is very well and perfect
    This is helpfull for me
    Thanks about this

  2. Thanks.it was awesome.very helpful

  3. Very helpfull – thanks!

  4. This description is very well
    Thank you very much about this

  5. Awesome advice! thank you for the succint explanation and comparison!!

  6. Thank you for such helpful explanation about the memory capacities and differences.

    Thank You

  7. Highly detailed explanation with clear advantage and disadvantages.
    Good job 🙂

  8. Fat and exFat being used on memory cards today (32gb Fat or over 32gb exFat) an important question has not been answered; Which file system has the faster write speed?

  9. Great, i think fat32 is faster than exfat (it is simplier).

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