So, school is approaching quickly, and one of the things on my supply list is a usb drive. Now I'm asking myself what filesystem to use. After some research, I found ext4 to be the most stable drive filesystem. But, I also found that Windows (The OS used by every computer in my school) can't read ext4 formatted drives without special drivers, and I'm sure the school wouldn't be too happy with me having to install the windows ext4 drivers on every computer I use with my usb. So, my question is, Should I use fat32, one of the ext filesystems (2, 3 or 4 would work) or NTFS, I have an ubuntu laptop, a Mac desktop, and of course the school computers I use are Windows, so which would be the best filesystem for my usb.

  • Fat 32 is the most portable, and the standard for USBs. Everything can read it (essentially).
    – Tim
    Aug 22 '14 at 21:23

You might consider exFAT. You didn't say whether this is a USB Flash drive or rotational hard drive. If you are talking Flash, over time you might want to reduce unnecessary writing to it so that means avoiding ext4 journaling, for example. I have read exFAT has some advantages for Flash drives, and it avoids some of the big problems (mainly file size limitations) in FAT32. The downside (in my experience) is it's not as stable in Ubuntu as the other filesystems. The big upside (I have read) is it is supported in all recent versions of Windows. (I don't use Windows so I cannot say.)

To install exFAT support in Ubuntu:

sudo apt-get install exfat-fuse exfat-utils

[in the Universe repository for Ubuntu 12.04 and later]

To format an exFAT partition:

sudo mkfs.exfat -n LABEL /dev/sdXn


sudo mkexfatfs -n LABEL /dev/sdXn

To change the label:

sudo exfatlabel /dev/sdXn NEW_LABEL

Get filesystem info:

sudo dumpexfat /dev/sdXn

To check the partition:

sudo fsck.exfat /dev/sdXn


sudo exfatfsck /dev/sdXn

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