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What is exFAT?

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Quick Answer

The exFAT file system format is developed by Microsoft and optimized for flash drives and mobile storage devices. It was released as the successor to the FAT32 file system.

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Full Answer

The exFAT file system improves on the older FAT32 file system in several ways. In addition to an overall improvement in performance, it offers better support for large files — larger than the 4GB limit of FAT32. This combined with its compatibility with mobile devices has led to it becoming the default format for SDXC cards larger than 32GB. Despite the benefits of exFAT, its use is largely restricted to flash drives and external devices. Most hard drives running Windows feature the NTFS file format.

An important advantage of choosing exFAT over other file systems is that it is also compatible with Apple computers. This makes it an extremely convenient option for owners who own systems running Windows and Mac OS X. Owners can format a hard drive to exFAT in Windows by launching the explorer, navigating to the drive, right clicking and selecting format, and then choosing the exFAT format. Formatting a thumb drive or external storage device to exFAT will wipe out any preexisting data, so it is important that owners first back up all their important data before proceeding with the format.

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