A file system is the way a hard drive stores information to hard drive. The more popular of the file systems used on hard drives today are: NTFS, FAT16, and FAT32. Earlier computers with smaller hard drives use one of the FAT file systems. Certain OS's have certain file systems they use. For instance, earlier versions of Windows NT did not recognize the FAT32 file system, but latter versions added support for the file system. According to Water Wheel in 2002 "FAT 16, is most likely on your computer if you use windows 3x, early windows 95." Windows 98 commonly used FAT32 and computers with the OEM version of Windows 98 were shipped with the FAT32 file system. Windows XP has adopted the NTFS file system due to the the increasing size of hard drives and the extra security features it offers. Windows ME and Windows 98 more commonly used the FAT32 file system.
FAT16 was popular in earlier versions of Windows but not used anymore in later computers due to limitations of this file system. Water Wheel in 2002 says "FAT 16 will only allow partitions of 2 GB's." With the massive sizes of hard drives today, having 40 partitions on one hard drive would be unthinkable. Therefore we use NTFS and FAT32 which support much larger hard drives and are more efficient than the FAT16 file system.
FAT32was made after FAT16 by Microsoft. This file system hasmany improvements over the FAT16 file system. In 2002 according to Water Wheel "Not only this but the system does go through ad move data to the outside of the hard drives platter making transfer rates faster." One of the only drawbacks is earlier programs and earlier versions of NT do not work with this file system.
The file system NTFS, used commonly by Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP, is popular today because of the security features it offers and the better file recovery options. Earlier versions of this file system did not support more than 8 gigs but was fixed in later versions to support hard drives much larger.