|File Systems & Terms
|File System - is a component of the operating system that acts as an interface with the hardware storage devices, and organizes data on them in a
form that can be used by the system and applications. There are three basic file systems used today; FAT16, FAT32, and NTFS.
FAT16 - the abbreviation FAT means (File Allocation Table), while the 16 at the end represents the number of bits required for a single FAT entry.
The original FAT table was called FAT12, because it used a 12 bit table. Of all three file systems, FAT16 offers the widest range of compatibility with
windows operating systems, has long as the volume size does not exceed 2GB. FAT16 is the only file system that you can dual boot ( operate more
than one operating system on a hard disk or system) with DOS (Disk Operating System) and Windows. However, FAT16 is limited in the length of
filenames to the 8.3 convention; meaning the filename can be only eight characters in length with a three character extension and no spaces. FAT16
can be converted to the FAT32 file system with the Drive Converter Wizard, but once converted to FAT32, you can not return to FAT16. Also, FAT16
does not provide a method of built-in security or data compression.
FAT32 - the abbreviation FAT means (File Allocation Table), while the 32 at the end represents the number of bits required for a single FAT entry.
FAT32 supports drives up to 2TB (terabytes) in size and the largest volume size supported is 32GB (gigabytes). Smaller cluster sizes makes the
FAT32 file system able to load applications and large data files faster than the FAT16 file system. The FAT32 file system also supports long
filenames of up to 255 characters with the ability to use spaces. However, just like the FAT16 file system, FAT32 does not provide a method of
built-in security or data compression.
NTFS - with the advent of windows NT, Microsoft introduced the NTFS (New Technology File System). Like FAT32, it supported long filenames and
the use of spaces in names. Unlike FAT, NTFS is optimized for multiuser environments. NTFS also provides an extra level of file security, and is more
reliable than previous file systems. NTFS supports very large volumes up to 2TB (terabytes) in size. It maintains a log that can be used to recover
and repair a volume's content in the event of a system failure.
File System Basics and Terms
Block - a set of contiguous bits that make up a definable quantity of information on storage media.
Boot Disk - a system device (usually a hard drive, floppy drive, or CD-ROM drive) that is used to start a computer.
Boot sector - The sector on a disk containing a small amount of information that defines the devices layout, identifies the file system, and allows the
drive to be declared a boot device.
Cluster - the number of disk sectors that can be treated as a single object by the operating system.
Dual boot - a hard disk or system that has been configured so that it can operate using more than a single operating system or file system.
Encryption - a method of encoding data, usually to prevent unauthorized user(s) from gaining access to private/restricted data. User(s) must have
the decoding key in order to access the data.
File - data collected and stored as a single unit on some form of mass storage medium.
FAT - this linked list system used to track disk space currently in use. This was the fundamental method used by early DOS operating systems, and is
still available today in several formats.
File format - the way the file content is formatted for individual files within a file system.
File handle - an integer value set by the file system to denote an open file.
File locking - a feature in a network file system that allows an individual file to be locked so that two instances cannot open for modification at the
Filename - the identifier used to label the individual file for use by the operating system or user. Different file systems have different naming
conventions, allow lengths, and reserve characters that cannot be used in naming a file.
Folder - the equivalent of a directory that is used to hold a collection of files in the Windows file system.
Format - the act or program used to prepare a disk for use by a file system. Also referred to as high level format, it requires that the hardware
already be prepared with a low level format and be partitioned. This usually involves dividing the media into series of tracks and sectors.
Low level format - an initial preparation of a hard disk used to prepare the media for partitioning and high level formatting by a file system. Low
level formatting is usually performed using firmware or software provided by the drive or disk controller manufacturer.
Master boot record - a specific sector on the first partition of the drive containing executable code and information about the operation of the start
process for a given operating system.
Partition table - indicates the logical structure (partitions) of a hard disk. Partitions are used to divide a large physical drive into smaller virtual
sections. Each section can then be described as a logical drive and have its own individual drive letter. The partition table is kept in the same location
as the master boot record.
Primary partition - the key partition on a hard disk. Most systems only have one primary partition, usually holds the boot sector and operating
system. This volume is usually designated the C drive.
Sector - the smallest storage unit on a disk.
Tracks - a series of sectors residing on a disk and arranged so that they lie at the same horizontal distance from the center of the disk.
Volume - a physical or virtual drive designated on a storage system.
|To the Rescue