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If you are new to working with partitions, then you may wonder what the differences between the different types are, and which ones you can install newer Windows systems on. With that in mind, today’s SuperUser Q&A post looks at a curious reader’s partition question.

Today’s Question & Answer session comes to us courtesy of SuperUser—a subdivision of Stack Exchange, a community-driven grouping of Q&A web sites.

The Question

SuperUser reader 09stephenb wants to know if Windows 8 has to be installed on an NTFS partition:

Does Windows 8 need to be installed on an NTFS partition, or does it just like to be on one? If I installed it on an NTFS partition and then copied all of its files over to a FAT32 partition, would it work or would it throw a tantrum and refuse to work?

Is an NTFS partition necessary for Windows 8 or not?

The Answer

SuperUser contributors kinokijuf and LPChip have the answer for us. First up, kinokijuf:

Windows NT 6.x can not be installed on FAT or FAT32 partitions because they make extensive use of advanced features of the NTFS file system, such as hard-links and junctions.

Besides, allowing users to install on FAT and FAT32 partitions in previous versions provided a false sense of security since these file systems do not support access control. Remember, one of the much-touted features of Windows Vista was increased security.

Followed by the answer from LPChip:

Windows Vista and higher will not install on a FAT32 partition and can only be installed on an NTFS partition. This is probably due to the use of symlinks (which are not supported in FAT32).

As for copying files, that is a no. Windows needs to be installed in order for the installer to configure your boot order properly. Just copying files will not do it.

Have something to add to the explanation? Sound off in the comments. Want to read more answers from other tech-savvy Stack Exchange users? Check out the full discussion thread here.

Akemi Iwaya
Akemi Iwaya has been part of the How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media team since 2009. She has previously written under the pen name "Asian Angel" and was a Lifehacker intern before joining How-To Geek/LifeSavvy Media. She has been quoted as an authoritative source by ZDNet Worldwide.
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