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File Allocation Table File System (FAT) – An Overview & Features

FAT File system was introduced by Microsoft with its very first Operating system DOS. Afterwards FAT become the default file system for Windows 95 and windows 98. It is still compatible with latest versions like windows 8 and windows 7. We are here to discuss about FAT file system, its features, versions and limitations.

FAT File System Basics

FAT file system is an abbreviation of "File Allocation Table" and it is used by the operating system to save the data on a hard disk in a proper way so that data can be found easily. Besides, it controls how data will be stored and retrieved.

FAT File System Basics

First of all, the hard disk is divided into storage components where a series of rings around the boundary of disk known as tracks, these tracks are divided into sectors. Data stores on the sectors are called Clusters. When we create a file on a hard disk it stores anywhere in clusters in a scattered way. FAT file system helps Operating system to track all the scattered pieces in clusters and make them readable for the user.

Different versions of FAT File System and Features

File allocation table in Windows operating system introduced with various versions like FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32. All versions of FAT came up with their own features that are listed below.

  • FAT12: In earlier days when the Floppy disk are the only portable storage media, FAT12 was the default file system for them. FAT12 supports disk up to 16MB.
  • FAT16: FAT16 was an improvement to overcome the limitations of FAT12. However FAT16 is compatible with larger size of clusters, which seems to waste of disk space.
  • FAT32: FAT32 was introduced with Windows 95 OSR2. It improved with lots of features and widely used for formatting the devices up to 2TB. It utilizes the disk space very efficiently by saving the smaller size of clusters. FAT32 file system has the ability to relocate the root directory.

Issues and Resolutions of FAT

There are many issues with FAT file system that could affect the hard disk and eventually the stored data also. FAT file system has some issues like there is no auto repair feature which means that FAT cannot recover inconsistent data on its own. FAT users face some problems that are given below:

  • Lost Clusters: This the most common issue faced by every computer user when files are not properly saved or closed. There are chances that these files become orphan. In order to recover inconsistent data, users run disk utility tool. But sometimes inbuilt utility may delete these files.
  • Invalid files and directories: Sometimes, the internal structure of files or directories get damaged.
  • Allocation or FAT Errors:: FAT can become corrupted or have some set of invalid values. Disk-Checking utility detect these errors then either repair these files or remove them permanently.

These issues make the files inaccessible then user need to recover or repair the files. User can restore the file from their backup or repair files by performing CHKDSK utility.
If there is no backup or file is too much corrupted due to which CHKDSK cannot repair them. In this situation user needs a tool, which can repair all corrupted file and recover all permanently deleted files. Then User can go for Windows File Recovery Software, It is a tool which support all Windows operating system and has an ability to repair corrupt as well as lost files.