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Should I format an USB stick or a SSD drive via FAT32 or NTFS?

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NTFS has many advantages, like file/folder compression, files can be larger than 4GB, it is a journaling file system, it logs last file accesses, it supports hard links and so on.
But some of these features wear out flash memory, because every flash memory has a limited write cycle.
  • Every time you read a file or directory from a NTFS drive, Windows will update the last access time (=write access).
  • Every time metadata is changed, the journaling feature of NTFS will pre-write the data, update the real data and then remove the pre-data.
Most SSD drives have a reserved amount of data and after a configured amount of writes to a block, the block will be exchanged with a part of the reserved area. But USB sticks normally don't have this feature.
So I recommend to use FAT32 or if you want to use NTFS and its features, disable at least the update of the last access data via:
fsutil behavior set disablelastaccess 1
Hint: This will disable the feature for the whole system, so all drives will be affected.
Disabling the journaling feature for a drive has some drawbacks:
From Microsoft Tech Doc:
Deleting the change journal impacts the File Replication service (FRS) and the Indexing Service, because it would require these services to perform a complete (and time-consuming) scan of the volume. This in turn negatively impacts FRS SYSVOL replication and replication between DFS link alternates while the volume is being rescanned.
If you know what you are doing and still want to disable the feature (e.g. for the c-drive), use:
fsutil usn deletejournal /D c:
Without any warranty - use this information at your own risk.
Tags: windows xp vista usb stick flash ssd ntfs last file access limited write cycles eee pc 701 900 901

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