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NTFS Versus FAT32 across the Network.



I've been tossing around the idea of converting my FAT32 drives to NTFS now for some time for the improved performance. I've had a couple concerns about doing this and was hoping to get my questions answered to see if I should go through with it or not.

1.) My computer is on a Network with a computer running Windows 98SE. I'm running Windows XP Pro Corp. Now my question is, if I convert my Windows XP Box to use NTFS will will the FAT32 Windows 98SE machine still be able to read from the NTFS machine properly and will I be able to see the FAT32 machine normally? I figure with Windows XP being up to date and as good as it is, I shouldn't have a problem but I wanted to double-check on it.

2.) Since I do game occasionally on the PC (Do a lot of gaming on my Playstation 2 lately) I still want that option available. Will converting the drive to NTFS disrupt my gaming at all? I mainly don't want any compatibility problems with it, that's my main concern.

Above and beyond that is there anything I should or need to know about NTFS before converting? Thanks for any help and information that I may get in advance. :)


OSNN Veteran Addict
Political User
I recently installed NTFS on both of my HDs after formatting them both, and then installing Win XP clean on my 12GB C: drive, and having nothing on my 80GB D: drive. My D drive works great, no problems at all, and defragging is a breeze, and it never runs scan disk even if I don't shut down for some reason. However, C: was a complete arse and it was a right fuss to install XP properly and eventually it loaded to the login screen but with no login options and no safe mode or anything could help, so I had to format again and install FAT32. So, I'm not sure why, but it was awful on my old C: drive but great on my newer D: drive. And if you're still reading this far down into my drivel then you've done well :)


Lol.... Drivel!

Here are your answers:

Question 1:

Converting your partition from FAT32 to NTFS has nothing to do with the networking ability. See, when you see the other computer's hard drive, you are not actually seeing the hard drive. Information is being transferred from one computer to the next by a protocol called NetBEUI. It allows for workgroup connections regardless of operating system. If you are running a Novell server on NetBEUI and Windows Networking, they can see each other. This is the same with IP, in which TCP/IP allows you to view information on another computer regardless of OS or partition info, etc.

Now, you might run into one problem and that is with permissions. NTFS is a secure file system. By switching to NTFS, you would enable encryption. Thus, your Windows 98 machine might not be able to connect to the Windows XP machine. To fix the problem, simply run the networking wizard on the Windows 98 machine and it will be fine.

Question 2:

No, NTFS will not hender your gaming XP-Erience! In fact, they might play better. The only thing you should consider is that because NTFS is a secure file system, information takes up more space on the hard drive. For example, I have a download folder on my XP machine that is technically 1.07GB in size. However, it takes up 1.1GB of space on the HD.
Originally posted by Reg
Information is being transferred from one computer to the next by a protocol called NetBEUI.
Is it really? I thought it was TCP/IP. I don't even have NetBEUI installed. Or is it hidden and always installed nowadays?
For example, I have a download folder on my XP machine that is technically 1.07GB in size. However, it takes up 1.1GB of space on the HD.
That is an effect you will find in more or less all file systems. It's mainly caused by internal fragmentation (unfilled file blocks). Many small files will cause this to happen.


Retired Mod
Political User
OK, to clarify this, Windows networking runs on the NetBIOS transport protocol. NetBIOS data is then transmitted over top-level network protocols, like NetBEUI (NetBIOS Extended User Interface), TCP/IP, or IPX/SPX.

TCP/IP is recomended over the other protocols when using Windows XP. Hard drive format has no affect on reading it over the network. A 9x box can read a shared NTFS drive over a LAN with no problems.



Correct. NetBEUI is just an extension to NetBIOS for user interfacing. I generally refer to them interchangably even though they are not the same.

As for what Zedric commented, yes, information is transferred over TCP/IP as you thought. See, NetBIOS is a Layer 4 and Layer 5 protocol. It describes how packets and segments are presented and transported. In order for NetBIOS to be routed over a LAN or WAN (yes, NetBIOS can be used over the internet), it needs a network layer (Layer 3) protocol. Under Windows Networking, the preferred and default protocol is IP. But, NetBIOS can be routed using NetBEUI (NetBEUI is a Layer 3 and Layer 4 protocol), IPX, AppleTalk, or any Layer 3 protocol.

As JJB6486, it is recommended to use TCP/IP since it is the default for Windows Networking. It's also recommended because of the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP), which offers error correction.

Be warned though, if you are using NetBIOS over TCP/IP, you will need a firewall. The reason is because UNC conventions can be routed over IP as well. Thus, if someone types in:


They will be able to access any shared information on your drive.

You will either need a firewall to block WAN port 139 requests, SOHO router (which usually blocks that port), or a commercial router with an access list blocking incoming port 139 requests.
Yes I know NetBIOS can be (and is) routed over TCP/IP. You were talking about NetBEUI which I know I haven't installed. Anyway, I allways block 137-139 on TCP and UDP both ways towards the Internet blocking all NetBIOS ports. Is it safe enough just to block 139?


Um.... I know that UNC (the "\\" ) uses port 139. So without that port open, you could not send or receive to a machine over NetBIOS. But to be safe, block them all.

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