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Linux vs Windows file systems – Let us choose among the two

by | Mar 28, 2021

Stuck between Linux vs Windows file systems? We can help you.

Both Windows and Linux use file systems to store data in an organized manner.

They organize disk-based files into a hierarchy of directories. Such directories are, “folders” and a whole hierarchy is a “file system” on both platforms.

As part of our Server Administration Services, we assist our customers with several such queries.

Today, let us discuss the conflict between Linux vs Windows file systems.

File system Hierarchy

It begins from the root directory, represented by the symbol /, which then expands into the sub-directories.

Windows includes various partitions which include directories; Linux places all the partitions underneath the root directory by mounting them in specific directories. In contrast, Windows uses the letter C as its root directory.

In Windows, during the boot process, it detects partitions and assigns a drive letter. Under Linux, the system must mount partitions and devices during the boot process.

Linux vs Windows file systems

  • Windows makes use of FAT and NTFS file systems.

FAT: File Allocation Table (FAT) is the initial file system in Windows. The FAT file system was used in DOS and the three versions of FAT are FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32.

NTFS: NTFS, introduced with the Windows NT operating system, has much fewer file size limitations. Basically, Microsoft developed NTFS to compete with UNIX, by replacing the much more simple FAT.

In Windows, we don’t have to worry about the file system, the default one is NTFS. Linux however, being built on a world of open source and differing opinions are not limited in this way.

On Linux, everything is a file. If something is not a file, then it is a process. Here, there is no difference between a file and a directory. A directory is simply a file containing names of other files. A variety of file systems can be used with Linux.

Commonly used file systems are :

Minix: It is the filesystem in the Minix operating system, the first to run under Linux.

Ext: It is an elaborate extension of the Minix filesystem.

Ext2: It is the high-performance disk filesystem by Linux for fixed disks as well as removable media. It was designed as an extension of the extended file system (ext). ext2 offers the best performance (in terms of speed and CPU usage).

Linux also has “msdos” and “vfat” file systems for compatibility with Windows.

Each Windows file system has a File Allocation Table that states which disk blocks hold the topmost directory. On Linux, the equivalent on most filesystems is the superblock.

A Linux file system has multiple copies of the superblock physically saved on the disk. This provides redundancy in case of partial disk corruption.

In terms of recovery tools, Windows can use only limited tools, while there is a large number of UNIX-based recovery tools available for Linux file systems.

Unlike Windows, Linux is bootable from a network drive.

Linux has two kinds of major partitions called data partitions and swap partitions. Hence, we never run out of memory in Linux.

While Windows use FORMAT.EXE to format a disk, Linux use “mkfs” (“make file system”) in various specialist forms.

[Found it helpful? Here’s some more]

Conclusion

To conclude, both Windows and Linux use file systems to store data in an organized manner.

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