Difference Between Linux File System and Windows File System

Linux File System vs Windows File System

A file system (also known as filesystem) is a technique for storing data in an organized and a human-readable form. The basic unit of a data file system is called a file. A file system is a very important component residing in most data storage devices like hard drives, CDs and DVDs. A file system helps the devices to maintain the physical location of the files. Furthermore, a file system can allow its files to be accessed from a network by becoming a client to network protocols like NFS.

What is Windows File System?

Windows mainly support FAT (File Allocation Table) and NTFS (New Technology File system). Windows NT 4.0, Windows 200, Windows XP, Windows .NET server and Windows workstation use NTFS as their preferred file system. Still, FAT can be used with floppy disks and older Windows versions (for multi-boot systems). FAT is the initial file system used in Windows. FAT was used with DOS, and its three versions are FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32. The number of bits used to identify a cluster is the number that is used as the suffix in the name. FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32 have 32MB, 4GB and 32GB as the maximum partition sizes.

NTFS has completely different data organization architecture. Basically, Microsoft developed NTFS to compete with UNIX, by replacing the much more simple FAT. However, the newest FAT version called exFAT is claimed to have certain advantages over NTFS. A FAT partition can be easily converted to a NTFS partition without loosing data. NTFS supports features like indexing, quota tracking, encryption, compression and repair points. Windows uses drive letter to distinguish partitions. Traditionally, The C drive is the primary partition. Primary partition is used to install and boot Windows. Drive letter can be used for mapping network drives as well.

What is Linux File System?

A variety of files systems can be sued with Linux. Commonly used file systems are ext* family (ext, ext2, ext3 and ext4) and XFS. Silicon Graphics developed XFS, which is a journaling system with high performance. The ext (extended file system) was developed in early 1990’s. It was the first file system used in Linux operating system. Remy Card developed it by getting inspiration from the UFS (UNIX File System).

On Linux, everything is a file. If something is not a file, then it is a process. Programs, audio, video, I/O devices and other devices are considered as files. In Linux, there is no difference between a file and a directory. A directory is simply a file containing names of a set of other files. Special files are a mechanism used for I/O (found in /dev). Sockets (another special file type) provide inter-process communication. Named pipes (much like sockets) are used for inter-process communication without network semantics.

What is the difference between Linux File System and Windows File System?

Windows uses FAT and NTFS as file systems, while Linux uses a variety of file systems. Unlike Windows, Linux is bootable from a network drive. In contrast to Windows, everything is either a file or a process in Linux. Linux has two kinds of major partitions called data partitions and swap partitions. Because of the existence of swap partitions, you never run out of memory in Linux (like in windows). In terms of recovery tools, only a limited number of tools can be used on Windows, while there is a large number of UNIX based recovery tools available for Linux file systems.