Ext4 Vs ExFAT

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In this article, we’ll compare ext4 vs exFAT, two popular file systems, by examining their respective pros and cons so that you can make an educated decision regarding which file system is suitable for your need.

For a general overview of file systems, check out this post.

Overview of ext4 and exFAT

Ext4 is an open-source, enhanced filesystem for Linux OSs that supersedes ext3 in terms of speed, dependability, and expansiveness. It was created as a successor to the ext3 file system and offers improved performance, reliability, and scalability. The ext4 filesystem supports larger files than its predecessor and can store up to 1 exbibyte (1 billion gigabytes) of data in a single volume. Ext4 also includes journaling capabilities that allow it to quickly recover from power outages or other unexpected events without any loss of data.

ExFAT stands for Extended File Allocation Table and is a proprietary Microsoft file system used on Windows computers. ExFAT was launched with Windows Vista SP1 in 2007 as a replacement for FAT32, which had limited capacity for files larger than 4GBs. Unlike ext4, ExFAT does not have journaling capabilities but instead relies on the NTFS journaling feature already present in Windows OSes for reliability during power outages or other unexpected events.

When comparing features between the two filesystems, one major difference is their maximum supported file size limit: while ext4 has a maximum supported size of 1 exbibyte (1 billion gigabytes), exFAT’s maximum supported size is 16 exbibytes (16 billion gigabytes). In contrast to ext4, ExFAT is compatible with multiple operating systems, including Windows and MacOSX-based systems such as macOS Sierra or High Sierra. Both filesystems are compatible with most storage devices, though some older models may lack the necessary drivers.

Overall, Ext4 and ExFAT are two different file systems that have distinct advantages. Ext4 has better journaling capabilities and a higher maximum supported size of 1 exbibyte, while ExFAT is compatible with both Windows and MacOSX operating systems up to 16 exbibytes in size. Both filesystems are widely used across various storage devices, though some older models may not be supported due to driver issues.

Advantages of ext4

Advantages of ext4

Performance Benefits:

ext4 offers significant performance benefits compared to other file systems. It is faster at reading and writing files and performing other tasks, such as moving or deleting them. The ext4 file system is advantageous for programs requiring rapid data access, such as databases or video editing tools. Additionally, ext4 supports journaling which means that if the system crashes during a write operation, it can be recovered more quickly than with traditional file systems.

Security Benefits:

ext4 provides robust security features that make it difficult for malicious actors to access sensitive data stored on the system. Encryption support in ext4 allows users to safeguard their data through AES-256 algorithms, ensuring that only authorized personnel can access the files. Furthermore, since ext4 is a Linux-based file system, its permissions structure also helps prevent unauthorized access by allowing users to set different levels of permission on each individual file and folder within the system.

Another advantage of using ext4 is its compatibility with various hardware devices and operating systems. Many Linux distributions come pre-equipped with this filesystem, allowing developers to easily employ it across a variety of systems and devices without encountering any compatibility issues. Additionally, many popular applications are built specifically for this type of filesystem so they can take full advantage of all its features when running on compatible machines or servers.

Overall, ext4 offers a number of advantages that make it an attractive option for engineers and engineering students. Nevertheless, there are some potential drawbacks to take into account when assessing ext4 that will be examined in the following section.

Disadvantages of ext4

Ext4 is a widely used file system that has been around since 2001. Ext4 offers many benefits, yet it can also present certain drawbacks. While ext4 can store volumes of up to one exbibyte, individual file sizes are limited to 16TB. Though ext4’s 16TB file size support is generally sufficient for most users, those needing to store larger files or amounts of data may find it limiting. Furthermore, certain OSs and gadgets are unable to employ ext4 as their main filesystem; this implies that any data stored on an ext4 segment must be changed over into another format before it can be accessed. Finally, some older devices simply don’t have drivers for ext4, so they won’t even recognize the filesystem, leaving your data inaccessible until you upgrade your hardware or switch to a different filesystem altogether.

The restricted size of files can be a real obstacle when aiming to store larger items such as videos or music libraries without having to split them into multiple parts and recombine them when necessary. This limitation also carries over to backups; if you want to ensure your entire system gets backed up without running out of space, then ext4 may not cut it. Furthermore, those who rely on cloud storage services may find themselves unable to upload anything larger than 16TB due to the restrictions imposed by their provider’s infrastructure – making transitioning from one service provider an arduous task should the need arise in the future.

Ext4 is a widely used file system with many advantages, but its limited 16TB maximum file size support can place undue restrictions on users who need to store larger files or large amounts of data. Furthermore, some older devices don’t have drivers for ext4, so they won’t even recognize the filesystem at all – making it something of an Achilles’ heel when compared to more modern alternatives like exFAT.

Advantages of exFAT

The exFAT file system is a cut above ext4, in many ways. For starters, it offers an expansive capacity for larger files than ext4 can provide, thus eliminating the need to worry about running into size restrictions when working with substantial file sizes. Additionally, since exFAT enjoys wider operating system and device support than ext4 does, users can rest assured that their data will be accessible from any corner of the globe without issue.

When it comes to increased file size support, exFAT makes working with large files easier than ever before. It supports individual files up to 16EB in size (that’s an Exabyte – one billion Gigabytes), which is far beyond what any other popular filesystem can handle. This means users no longer have to worry about splitting large datasets into smaller chunks or dealing with compression algorithms just so they can fit everything onto a single drive or storage device.

When it comes to compatibility, exFAT surpasses ext4 in leaps and bounds. Windows 10 now natively provides access to both NTFS and exFAT file systems, enabling users from either Linux or Windows backgrounds to effortlessly exchange data. MacOS also provides full read/write access for both NTFS & exFAT formatted drives straight off-the-bat – no additional driver required.

Overall, exFAT offers a lot of advantages in terms of file size support, operating system, and device compatibility. Still, prior to settling on this type of filesystem for your venture, it is prudent to ponder the possible disadvantages.

Disadvantages of exFAT

Performance Issues:

exFAT is not as efficient in handling data as other file systems, such as ext4. This can lead to slowdowns and lags when accessing or writing files. Additionally, exFAT has a higher overhead due to its larger internal structures and metadata requirements, which can further impact performance.

Due to the lack of encryption or authentication, exFAT-formatted drives are vulnerable to unauthorized access and modification. Without encryption or authentication, the drive could be subject to unauthorized access and changes in its data without one’s knowledge. As such, it’s important to be aware of this risk before using an exFAT-formatted drive for sensitive information.

Another potential issue with using exFAT is compatibility issues between different operating systems and devices. Older Windows editions may not have access to all the characteristics of newer ones, while Mac OS X could be limited in its utilization of certain features available on recent Windows versions. It is, therefore, important to check device compatibility before formatting a hard drive or another storage device with an exFAT file system if you plan on sharing files between multiple computers or platforms regularly.

Questions on Ext4 vs. Exfat

Is EXT4 good for external drives?

EXT4 is a popular Linux file system that can be used on external drives. It offers improved performance, reliability, and security compared to other filesystems like FAT32 or NTFS. The main benefit of using EXT4 for an external drive is its support for larger files and partitions than those supported by FAT32 or NTFS. Additionally, it supports journaling, allowing the operating system to recover from errors more quickly in case of power failure or unexpected shutdowns. For these reasons, many professionals recommend using EXT4 as the default file system when formatting an external hard drive.

Is exFAT good for Linux?

No, exFAT is not a good file system for Linux. Rather than being as compatible with Linux systems as other popular filesystems such as ext4 or XFS, exFAT was primarily designed for Windows. Additionally, it lacks features like journaling which are important to ensure data integrity on Linux systems. As a result, while some distributions may support mounting an exFAT drive in read-only mode, using it can lead to data loss and should be avoided if possible.

What is the downside of exFAT?

The downside of exFAT is that it has limited compatibility with older operating systems and devices, meaning some users may not be able to access files stored on an exFAT drive. It also does not support file permissions or encryption, which can make the data vulnerable to unauthorized access. ExFAT’s large cluster size and inefficient utilization of space can cause it to require more disk capacity than other file systems, such as NTFS or HFS+, for storing the same amount of data. Finally, exFAT is not designed for use with databases or applications that require high levels of performance.

What is EXT4 vs. exFAT vs. NTFS?

EXT4, exFAT, and NTFS are all file systems used for storing data on hard drives. EXT4, the most common Linux-based file system, offers features such as journaling and support for large files up to 16TB in size, along with improved performance compared to its predecessor (EXT3). It also offers improved performance over its predecessor (EXT3). exFAT is a Microsoft proprietary file system optimized for flash memory devices like USBs or SD cards, allowing them to store larger files than with FAT32 while still maintaining compatibility across multiple platforms. Lastly, NTFS is the Windows native filesystem that has been around since 1993; it supports advanced features such as encryption and permissions but can only be read by Windows machines unless third-party software is installed.


In conclusion, ext4 and exFAT are both viable file systems for various purposes. While ext4 is a more powerful system with greater performance capabilities, it also has some drawbacks that make it unsuitable in certain situations. On the other hand, exFAT offers fewer features but can be used in environments where compatibility or portability is paramount. Ultimately when deciding between these two options, engineers must consider their specific requirements to determine which one best suits their needs.

For more posts on file systems and on computer architecture in general, go to the index.

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