FAT 16 vs. FAT 32
When you partition a new, clean hard drive, one of the things you do is decide what file system to use. Until a few years ago, FAT16 was the main file system for home PCs. It's main limitation was that it could handle only partitions up to a size of ca. 2 GB. The reason for this was that it used a 16-bit number to index each cluster.
Let's do some math to understand the difference between FAT (or more exact FAT 16) and FAT 32. When you partition and format the drive, it is being organized into a lot of cubby holes, so to speak. Those are called clusters, which are numbered by the FAT to keep track of them and what's in them. FAT 16 uses a 16 bit number to number them, and the highest number you can display using 16 bits, is 2^16 = 65,535.
The biggest possible size each cluster can be is 32,768 Bytes. Therefore, if you take the maximum number of clusters - 65,535 - times the maximum cluster size - 32,768 Bytes -, you get the maximum hard drive size FAT can handle - 2,147,450,880 Bytes, or 2 GB.
In contrast to that, FAT 32 uses a 32-bit number, and therefore can handle up to 2 TeraBytes
Pretty amazing, isn't it? The binary system is very simple once you understand it, very powerful, and omni-present in our everyday lives in anything that has a circuit board inside. Even though this was just a basic overview, you now know how the binary system works and what all it does inside of your
Page 1: What is the binary system
Page 2: The secrets of the binary system
Page 3: Bits vs bytes, some terminology
Page 4: This page