exFAT Vs. NTFS: Key Differences and Performance Comparison

| Updated on February 26, 2024

On a computer, files are always stored in an orderly format in logical locations in order to avoid any errors while receiving them back at the request of users. There are many standard filing systems that do the work of managing data immaculately because they understand the importance of memory and storage devices. Some of these systems are exFAT, FAT32, FAT12, FAT16, EXT4, EXT2, NTFS, and others. Such systems have their own logic, structure, security, and more.

In this article, we will learn briefly about two file storage systems; exFAT and NTFS, and compare them to see which one is better. Without any further ado, let’s begin. 

Brief on Data Organizing Systems: exFAT and NTFS

Microsoft understands the need for internal hard drives in computers in order to store data and information. Therefore, it brought advanced technology systems like exFAT and NTFS, capable of holding large files and folders that are stacked logically to be retrieved easily. Suppose you get 1TB of data storage on your PC, while this seems like an amazing deal, your computer would have problems handling all that, that’s where exFat & NTFS comes into play.

The exFAT (Extended File Allocation System) file storage system is much enhanced than the NTFS system because the former is capable of storing files larger than 4GB and is compatible with various operating systems like Windows, macOS, and Linux. Interestingly, this file system developed by Microsoft has been helpful for cameras, camcorders, and other devices that require high-capacity storage. 

On the other side, NTFS, or New Technology File System, is the modern file management system currently supported by Windows versions like Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 8, Windows 10, and more. It supports maximum storage volume support, more than many other file storage systems like FAT32, up to 1 billion gigabytes.

Everyone knows the value of cloud data storage companies, but what’s hard is to determine which of their products is better for you. Read through the rest of the article to know which is better exFAT Vs. NTFS.

What is exFAT and Some of Its Features?

exFAT, an Extended File Allocation Table, supports Windows XP, macOS 10.6.5, and their respective later storage systems through its simple flat addressing scheme. It supports accurate time stamping and supports large storage devices up to a volume of 128 petabytes. Interestingly, this file system prevents any data loss because of the file allocation system that keeps a copy of everything. 

Here’s a list of the pros and cons of exFAT

  • It is able to support large files.
  • Cooperative with operating systems.
  • No realistic file or partition size limits.
  • Doesn’t work with the old operating system.
  • Absence of advanced features that are present in NTFS.

Now, let’s get to understand its features one by one.

  • Large Storage Support: exFAT file system is compatible with it, providing storage support for file sizes up to 16 exbibytes. The individual size limit of a file could exceed 4 GB. exFAT holds the volume strength of up to 128 petabytes (1 petabyte = 1 Million gigabytes) collectively.  
  • Backup For Any Loss: The file allocation system used by it keeps up the backup and therefore saves the files when they are lost. 
  • Directory and Storage Method: The directory structure for the storage of files by exFAT is quite simple. It does not involve any complex encrypted database, as only a file allocation table is used to track any file or its location. 
  • No Journaling: exFAT doesn’t have many additional features and capabilities, and one of the loopholes is the “absence of journaling.” Journaling is a feature that keeps a record of all changes made in a file system. 

exFAT doesn’t have much-enhanced features to avoid issues like corruption, where a backup to a file log system is extremely required. 

What is NTFS and Some of Its Features

NTFS, or a New Technology File System, helps in the better organization of files and their storage systems through several advanced controls and features. Being developed by Microsoft, it’s currently utilized in various Windows versions like Windows NT, Windows 2000, Windows XP, Windows 10, and more.

You can read the pros and cons of NTFS for a better understanding.

  • It is able to support large files.
  • No partition size limit is present.
  • It allows compression of files and folders.
  • The user is able to set the file permissions and encryption.
  • Doesn’t work with the old operating system.

Following is a brief description of its features.

  • Huge Storage Support: Yes, this file system supports up to 16 exabytes (1 exabyte: 1 Billion gigabytes), which is completely more than any other file system. Therefore, NTFS technology has the ability to maintain a large pile of files and their respective storage through its advanced system. 
  • Strong File Backup: So the New Technology File System upholds an Encrypting File System (EFS) that encrypts the file data in order to keep it safe. Also, this system is quite efficient as it reduces disc storage usage by compressing the files and folders in its way. 
  • File Organization: NTFS stores each and every file in a unique file record, which includes all the major information regarding the files’ attributes. This Windows-based system is supportive and reliable if any files get corrupted. The built-in encryption system helps protect sensitive user information.
  • Journaling: In order to keep track of file records safely, NTFS saves every file through a journaling feature to quickly recover them during times of need. 

Learning about NTFS and its features was fun, now, let’s watch how exFAT and NTFS file storage systems differ from each other. 

Difference Between exFAT and NTFS

The given table differentiates the two most commonly used file storage systems: exFAT and NTFS.

The file allocation system keeps the backups up and helps during any loss.Stores files in encrypted format; thus, the file backup system is very robust.
Features don’t involve journaling to keep the history details related to any file system.Have a secure journaling system that keeps track of all changes made in file system.
It is not very secure with its simple file allocation system settings.Powerful and safe, as NTFS keeps all its data saved and designed in an encrypted form, making it impossible to crack.
Doesn’t support big file names.It supports big file names up to 255 characters.

If you’ve understood the differences, a comparison between the two will make things more clear for you.

Comparison Between exFAT and NTFS

After going through the differences and features of exFAT and NTFS, you can consider the comparison table below to know more about the two filing systems.

Full NameExtended File Allocation TableNew Technology File System
Release Year20061993
CompatibilityAll versions of Windows, modern versions of macOS, and Linux.All versions of Windows, read only on macOS, and some Linux distributions.
Used ForProvides larger file size so better for external storage.Works efficiently for a Windows system’s internal disk.
Overall PerformanceHighLow on small volumes and high on large volumes.
Volume Size Limit128 PB8 PB
File Size Limit16 EB8 PB
Maximum No. of FilesAbout unlimited4,294,967,295 (232 – 1)
Fault ToleranceOnly when TFAT is activated.Maximum
Transparent EncryptionNot AvailableNot Available
Accessing SpeedWorks quickly for external devices like USB.Works quickly for internal drives.

After going through the comparison, you can get an idea which filing system is better at what aspect.

exFAT vs NTFS – Which one Should be Used?

First things first, exFAT is to be used for external hard drives and NTFS for internal hard disks. NTFS is faster as it clearly outperforms exFAT and even uses less system resources. On the other hand, exFAT is better at writing large and medium sized data than NTFS. But, NTFS performs better when handling multiple small sized files.

If you’re a gamer, you should know that games installed on external hard drives need exFAT, as it performs better at reading and writing than NTFS. In addition, exFAT proves to be better at writing files for different operating systems because NTFS is limited to all Windows versions. However, you must choose NTFS for a detachable disk.

Hence, it totally depends upon the file size, number, disk drive, and the operating system to choose one of the filing systems.

Closing Thoughts

The article brought a brief discussion on the file storage systems NTFS and exFAT, popular for holding piles of storage in their own systematic way. Both of them are trusted by users for various reasons, like safety and allocation settings. At last, NTFS seems like a trusted and powerful supporting storage system due to its robust file and backup system.


Which one is the best option between NTFS and exFAT?

NTFS is the most recommended storage file system because it is more trusted for keeping a good backup of files and also keeps them protected through its encrypted storage format.

Which one is faster, NTFS or exFAT?

NTFS is faster for large files, as it has a remarkable write speed of 25MB/s but slower for small files. On the other hand, exFAT works faster with small files, with a write speed up to 15MB/s, but slower with large files.

What is the exFAT format used for?

exFAT formats files that have a storage capacity of up to 4GB and also facilitate HD videos.

What is the risk of exFAT?

So, the user might lose the whole sum of data in this case because the exFAT system doesn’t keep the saved copy of the file stored.

Is exFAT good for SSD?

Yes, exFAT is a good option if you are looking for an external drive on Windows or Mac.

Janvi Panthri

Senior Writer, Editor

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