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USB drives are very common these days. They come in a variety of sizes and shapes and almost everyone uses one. USB drives are mostly formatted with the FAT or FAT32 filesystem. This is because traditionally USB drives had smaller capacity and by using NTFS on them we had more to loose than gain because of the greater overhead accompanying the use of NTFS. As the drives grew larger in size this has changed.

The single biggest reason that is alone enough to persuade you to use NTFS on USB drive is if you want to handle large files. If you have ever transferred a large ISO file you now what I mean. FAT does not support files larger than 4GB. In addition there are other benefits of using NTFS like encryption, per file and folder permissions, compression etc.

That said there are certain disadvantages of using NTFS as well, for one there are frequent writes to the disk and thus performance degrades a little but generally wouldn’t be noticeable for our purposes.

While Windows Vista and Windows 7 allow you to format a drive with NTFS out of the box, Windows XP only allows you to format with FAT and FAT32. However you can format with NTFS in Windows XP if you want to.

Just follow the steps below:

  • Open Device manager (Right Click on My Computer Icon and click Manage, then look for device manager and open it.)
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  • Expand the entry that reads Disk Drives. Your USB drive must be listed under it.
  • Select the entry for your USB drive, right click and choose properties.
  • Go to the policies tab in the dialog box that opens. Choose “Optimize for Performance”. This would allow you to format your drive with NTFS.
  • Now you when you plug in your USB drive and right click to format you will see an option to format it with NTFS.

    In conclusion its best if you use NTFS for large capacity USB drives or that you weigh out the pros and cons and decide according to your needs!

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