FAT stands for File Allocation Table. It is the name of the computer file system architecture family. The FAT file system has 8-bit FAT, FAT12, FAT16, FAT16B, FAT32, ExFAT, FATX and FAT+ variants. It is one of the upmost filesystems when it comes to being lightweight and compatibility.
Introduced in the year 1977, The original FAT file system (or FAT structure, as it was called initially) was designed and coded by Marc McDonald. The FAT name was derived out of the fact that the original FAT (8 Bit FAT), utilizes index table extensively throughout its architecture. Throughout years, since the release of FAT several later iterations of the same family have been introduced such as FAT32, exFAT, etc. which aspire to cope with the drawbacks of their previous iterations as well as tries to comply with the latest standard, while preserving backward compatibility with existing software. Out of the aforementioned FAT variations stated earlier, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32 and exFAT are the most popular one. Out of which the first three are used primarily for backward compatibility.
Since FAT filesystem is considered as a family of file system, We would take a look at one of its versions for the purpose of describing its merit/demerits. For this purpose we would be using FAT32 as a discipline throughout the length of this article.
- Storage:Supports partition sizes upto 8 Terabytes
- Scope:It is the oldest of the 3 file systems avaible on windows OS. Due to which it is used widely by a large number of manufacturers of computer appliances like USB drives, Game Consoles etc.
- Compatibility with other Filesystems: FAT32 filesystem allows easy conversion routes.
Therefore, a volume having FAT32 as files system could be converted to an NTFS volume without any data loss.
- Compatibility: The filesystem is compatible with most operating systems in existence, such as Linux, Windows, MacOS.
- Support file sizes upto 4 Gigabyte
- Has negligible amount of security to the data stored. Therefore, data could be tampered illicitly
- Has no fault tolerance
- No support for Encryption of individual file or folder
- No support for data recovery in case of data loss, as opposed to newer file systems which implement certain measures for ease in data recovery in case of data loss (ex. NTFS has Journalling which could be used for speeding up the process of data recovery)
- No longer being supported by several technological manufacturers, due to newer/better filesystems taking precedence
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