If you’re preparing to take a Windows 2000 exam—it doesn’t matter which one—you’d better know which file systems the new OS supports, as well as the limitations of each. It’s easy to get tripped up trying to remember whether Win2K Professional supports VFAT, whether Win2K Server can be installed on a FAT32 partition, or whether FAT supports long filenames.
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While all Windows 2000 operating systems (Professional, Server, Advanced Server, and Datacenter Server) support FAT, FAT32, and NTFS, Microsoft recommends that you install the new platform on an NTFS partition. VFAT is not natively supported by any of the Win2K operating systems. Further, Active Directory and many of the enhanced security features in Windows 2000 require that an NTFS partition be present.
Don’t be surprised if you see an exam question asking about dual-boot installations. I’ve seen Microsoft place a greater emphasis on dual-boot configurations in its literature, so it’s not beyond reason that a dual-boot question or two could pop up on your test. If it does, remember that a FAT32 partition will most likely be required. You can still have an NTFS partition for files and data storage for specific services, but you’ll want a FAT32 partition for Win9x or another OS, such as Linux.
FAT and FAT32 benefits
While you can use FAT and FAT32 partitions to host Win2K installations, doing so will restrict the operating systems’ capabilities. As noted above, Active Directory requires an NTFS partition, as do domain controllers, new security enhancements, remote storage features, and the use of disk quotas.
That said, FAT and FAT32 can be used to host multiple operating systems on a single hard drive. With the trend toward increasingly larger hard drives, it’s likely that many IT professionals will be wanting to house more than one OS on a system.
NTFS, updated for Win2K, boasts the following advantages:
- Support for long filenames
- Self-repairing characteristics
- Better compression than FAT and FAT32
- Enhanced security
- Improved remote storage capability
- Unlimited file storage capacity
FAT, FAT32, and NTFS compared
Each of the file systems supported by Win2K possesses different characteristics, limitations, and benefits. Table A lists some of the more important distinctions between the file systems.
|Maximum 512 files in root directory||No maximum limit on number of files in root directory||No maximum limit on number of files in root directory|
|Maximum 65,535 files in non-root directory||No limit on maximum number of files in non-root directory||No limit on maximum number of files in non-root directory|
|2 GB maximum file size||4 TB maximum file size||16 EB maximum file size|
|2 GB maximum volume size||4 TB maximum file size||16 EB maximum file size|
|11-character maximum filename length||256-character maximum filename length||256-character maximum filename length|
|Does not support file-level security||Does not support file-level security||Supports file-level security|
|No self-repairing characteristics||Limited self-repairing characteristics||Self-repairing characteristics|
|Supports dual-booting||Supports dual-booting||Not dual-boot friendly|
Erik Eckel MCP+I, MCSE is editor in chief of TechRepublic’s IT communities. He’s previously held positions as a high-speed IP access product manager and a communications representative for nationwide long-distance, data networking, and Internet services providers.If you'd like to share your opinion, please post a comment below or send the editor an e-mail.