Sometimes it can be a bit confusing or frustrating when you see something referred to by multiple names, like exFAT and FAT64, for example. Which name is correct, or are both of them correct? Today’s SuperUser Q&A post has the answer to a curious reader’s 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.

Photo courtesy of Andrew Smith (Flickr).

The Question

SuperUser reader rany wants to know if exFAT is just another name for FAT64:

I conducted a quick Google search and realized that some people are referring to exFAT as FAT64. Is exFAT just another name for FAT64?

Is exFAT just another name for FAT64?

The Answer

SuperUser contributor ChrisInEdmonton has the answer for us:

There is no such thing as FAT64 (at least not at this time), but there is exFAT, which some people refer to as FAT64.

Why do they do this? The history of the File Allocation Table is quite involved. These days, the most common implementations are FAT32 (though this is increasingly uncommon) and exFAT. FAT32 was a significant improvement over the older FAT file systems, allowing volume sizes up to 2TB (with a sector size of 512 bytes) and 16TB (with a sector size of 64KB). That is still large enough for most installations in 2016. Unfortunately, the largest file size was one byte less than 4GB, which is pretty small nowadays.

exFAT does away with the 4GB limit, allowing files well into the PB range, and similarly with the volume size. It does so using 64-bit length fields. As FAT32 used 32-bit length fields, exFAT naturally acquired the nickname FAT64.

So yes, FAT64 and exFAT are the same thing, but exFAT is the correct name.

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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