What’s the difference between exFAT and EXT4? Which one is better for external drives? This post from MiniTool Partition Wizard will explain exFAT vs EXT4 and give you the answer.

Overview exFAT and EXT4

If you are using a Linux system, you may be interested in exFAT vs EXT4. In this part, I will introduce them to you, respectively.

What Is EXT4?

EXT4 (fourth extended filesystem) is a journaling file system for Linux, developed as the successor to EXT3. It is the default file system for many Linux distributions including Debian and Ubuntu.

This file system can support volumes with sizes in theory up to 64 zebibyte (ZiB) and single files with sizes up to 16 tebibytes (TiB) with the standard 4 KiB block size, and volumes with sizes up to 1 yobibyte (YiB) with 64 KiB clusters, though a limitation in the extent format makes 1 exbibyte (EiB) the practical limit.

EXT4 Maximum File System Size

Block size1KB2KB4KB64KB
32-bit mode4TB8TB16TB256PB
64-bit mode16ZB32ZB64ZB1YB

EXT4 uses 32-bit mode by default. If the '64bit' feature is enabled, 64-bit mode is used.

However, in most cases, the default block size of the EXT4 file system is 4KB because the hard drive in a PC won’t exceed 16TB.

Ext2 vs Ext3 vs Ext4 File System: Which One Should You Use?
Ext2 vs Ext3 vs Ext4 File System: Which One Should You Use?

A lot of people are confused about Ext2 vs Ext3 vs Ext4. What’s the difference between them? Which one should you use? Now, get the answers from this post.

Read More

What Is exFAT?

exFAT (Extensible File Allocation Table) is a file system introduced by Microsoft in 2006 and optimized for flash memory such as USB flash drives and SD cards. It breaks through the partition size limit (32GB) and the file size limit (4GB) of FAT32. Therefore, it has been adopted by the SD Association as the default file system for SDXC cards larger than 32 GB.

The maximum volume size of the exFAT file system is 128 PB and the maximum file size is also 128 PB (the theoretical file size limit is 16 EB, but it is limited by the maximum volume size).

What’s the default cluster size of the exFAT file system? You can refer to this table:

Volume SizeWindows XP/Vista/7 and Server 2003/2008(R2)
>256TBNot supported
Ext4 vs NTFS vs HFS+: Differences and Which One Should You Use
Ext4 vs NTFS vs HFS+: Differences and Which One Should You Use

Many users are confused about Ext4 vs NTFS vs HFS+. This post will analyze their differences and help you select the correct one on different operating systems.

Read More

exFAT vs EXT4

In terms of EXT4 vs exFAT, which is better for a USB drive? Both EXT4 and exFAT support big volume sizes (1EB for EXT4 and 128PB for exFAT) and big file sizes (16TB for EXT4 and 128PB for exFAT), which are enough for use nowadays. Therefore, I will compare the 2 file systems from the following aspects.

  • Compatibility: EXT4 can only be used on Linux systems. However, exFAT is supported by Windows & macOS & Linux systems, and other devices like TVs, cameras, etc.
  • Performance: 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.
  • Security: EXT4 does not honor the “secure deletion” file attribute. Therefore, deleted sensitive data will appear in the file-system journal. However, exFAT drives are more vulnerable to unauthorized access and modification due to the lack of encryption or authentication.
  • Storage: For a drive of large capacity, the default cluster size of EXT4 is 4KB while that of exFAT is 128KB. Each cluster can only be occupied by one file. Therefore, you will find that when a large number of files are stored on an EXT4 drive and an exFAT drive, the remaining space of the EXT4 drive will be more than that of the exFAT drive.

To understand the storage difference between exFAT and EXT4 better, you can refer to this post on the Stack Exchange forum.

I have 2 hard drives, one is EXT4 and one is EXFAT. Both are 8TB, and both contain the same files. However, if I look at the amount of space being used in Gparted on Ubuntu, there is a big difference. EXT4: there is 154 GB free. EXFAT: there is 13 GB free.


Then, would you like to format the USB drive as EXT4 or exFAT? If you want to use the USB drive across systems, exFAT is recommended. If you use the USB drive only on a Linux system, EXT4 is recommended.

EXT4 Windows: Mount EXT4 File System in WSL2
EXT4 Windows: Mount EXT4 File System in WSL2

This post shows you how to mount an EXT4 partition in WSL2. It also introduces other tools to manage EXT4 partitions on Windows.

Read More

Bottom Line

MiniTool Partition Wizard can help you clone the system, manage disks better, and recover data. If you have this need, you can download it from the official website.

  • linkedin
  • reddit