Computing Terms

FAT (16 & 32) -

What's FAT?

The FAT (file allocation table) is basically an index on your hard drive. Your computer uses this index to remember where it stuck your files. The bad thing is that if it get damaged somehow, you're data is probably gone forever.

There are basically two types, FAT32 and FAT16. In this case, the bigger the better. FAT32 stores files more efficiently and allows the use of disk drives over 2 GB. With a FAT16 system, you have about a 2 GB limit on disk size. So, if you have a 6 GB hard drive, you need to partition it off into 3 under FAT 16, but FAT 32 can see the whole thing.

To see what type of FAT system you're using, right-click the MyComputer icon on your desktop and select Properties from the resulting menu. Click the Performance tab. If it shows a file system of 32 bit, you're using FAT32. If you see 16 bit, you're using FAT16.

With Win 95 second edition and Win 98/ME, you can covert your drive to a FAT32 drive with a windows FAT32 Converter utility. It's under Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools. Click the little Details button on the conversion wizard if you want to see more info on FAT32.


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