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exFAT vs FAT32 vs NTFS - Real life performance test

posted Nov 3, 2013, 1:51 AM by Sami Lehtinen   [ updated Nov 3, 2013, 1:00 AM ]
I had a discussion with a friend of mine about the best file system for Flash USB stick. After discussion we decided that it's hard to say and requires testing. Here are the results.
I/O test data set 1000 x 32 KiB files on Windows 7 using Kingston DT101 G3 8GB DataTraveler USB2 - Flash memory stick
All times are in seconds, mean results for 10 tests. Lower value is better. USB stick was formatted (with default settings) and remounted between all test sessions.

NTFS - Fastest - 4 KiB cluster
Create: 22
Read: 6
Delete: 5
Total: 33

FAT32 - Slowest - 4 KiB cluster

Create: 40
Read: 7
Delete: 22
Total: 70

exFAT - 32 KiB cluster

Create: 28
Read: 6
Delete: 15
Total: 48

Actually these are quite interesting results. I really would have expected something different, but that's just how it is. This is good thing about real life tests, which can reveal that your basic assumptions were wrong. Based on this test, it seems that NTFS is actually the fastest file-system on FLASH drive.

Yes, I do know that these tests included only access. I'm very aware that mount and dismount times were much longer using NTFS than with exFAT as well as time which it took to quick format the drive with file system. I also prefer NTFS for business use due it's journaling. Situation with exFAT where free space bitmap is possibly corrupted and some data gets overwritten isn't actually very desirable.

I'm also aware that operating system might write cache data differently based on the file system being used. But it's bit too complicated and hard to compare here directly.

KW: exFAT, FAT32, NTFS, performance, I/O, file system, speed test, comparison, using Windows operating system. Fastest, Slowest, Slower, Faster. creation, deletion, reading, accessing, access.