ExFAT file system

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exFAT Filesystem, what is it?

Microsoft created the exFAT (Extended File Alocation Table) filesystem [1] to make up for the inadequacies of FAT32 (4GB file size limit) & NTFS (read only from OS/X), as it can hold large files, large numbers of files & use very large partitions.

For details on which versions of Windows & OS/X can relate to exFAT, & other details about exFAT, please see this wiki page: [2]

The exFAT FS does not use journaling, though there is an optional TexFAT component available, it is not at this stage compatible with desktop GNU/Linux systems. More info' on TexFAT can be found here: [3]

Having no journal makes the data on such a filesystem more vulnerable to irreparable corruption due to it not being ejected properly, or if the system is hit by a power outage of some kind.

Use this knowledge to prevent loss of data on your exFAT drive as best you can. Also, choose wisely the use of such a drive. Using such a drive to carry movies, music, photos & such would be fine, providing you of course have them safely backed up elsewhere.


Why you may be happy to use exFAT

I've found using the exFAT FS to be the easiest way for me to be able to create a situation where my 2TB drive can have data on it that has been copied from an ext4 drive & remains easily accessible to OS/X 10.6.5 (& newer versions); Windows XP (& newer versions, read the exFAT wiki [4]); & Linux (after installed three files - see below).


exFAT in Linux

To use exFAT, you need to be sure that the following files are installed on your Linux system (they are all in the Manjaro's repos):

exfat-utils
fuse-exfat
util-linux

With the above three files installed, when you plug in an exFAT formatted device, it should automount. Also, if you have exfat-utils installed, then GParted is capable of doing its thing in exFAT format too, which is nice to know.


File Permissions, Ownership & Data Security

The exfat partition on my drive came with
drwxrxrx permissions & is root:root 
for the owner & group. 

So anyone can read it, execute from it, but only root can delete files & write to the partition. So the data is protected on all file systems, as it needs administrator access to delete files or write to the drive.

I've used the exFAT formatted drive now in OS/X 10.6.8, Win7 & Manjaro - the permissions & user:group are still the same when I look at them in Manjaro. So it has passed the test of experience, for me at least.


Summary

With the easy mounting on Linux, OS/X & Windows, plus the above ownership & permissions, there are certainly times when exFAT is a good choice.

It was invented for removable media, though certainly is very useful for HDD's, particularly the external variety that bounce around between different OS's. For me at least, I've found the exFAT FS to be a near perfect & relatively simple solution to the multi-OS media access problems.

Here is a link [5] with questions answered by Andrew Nayenko the developer of most of the files that GNU/Linux (at least) need to use to be able to work with exFAT.


Support

Following is a link to this page's forum counterpart where you can post any related feedback: [6]