The Thinking Behind the 32GB Windows Format Limit On FAT32


The reason why the Windows UI has a 32GB restriction on the formatting of FAT32 volumes is due to the fact that retired Microsoft engineer Dave Plummer “stated so.” The confession comes “inside the trend of a sequence of anecdotes hosted on his YouTube channel, Dave’s Garage,” reviews The Register. From the report:

In the last years of the twentieth century, Plummer became worried about porting the Windows 95 shell to Windows NT. Part of that became a redo of Windows Format (“it needed to be an alternative and whole rewrite for the reason that Win95 devices became so markedly different”) and, in addition to the grungy lower-degree bits taking place in the API, he additionally knocked collectively the classic, stacked Format conversation over the path of an hour of UI creativity. As he recognized his design genius, he considered what cluster sizes to provide to future Windows NT users. The alternatives might outline the dimensions of the volume; FAT32 has the widest variety of clusters in a volume. Making the one cluster large might make for a similarly large volume, but at a frightening cost in terms of wasted space: picking out a 32-kilobyte cluster length or even the few bytes wanted through a “Hello World” report might snaffle the overall 32k.

“We call it “Cluster Slack,” explained Plummer, “and it’s the unavoidable waste of using FAT32 in large quantities.” “How massive is simply too massive? Where do you say, “No, it’s too inefficient?” “It might be folly to assist you to do that. That is the selection I became confronted with. ” At the time, the most important memory card Plummer may have wanted to lay his arms on for trying out had an impossibly massive 16-megabyte capacity. “Perhaps I accelerated its length through a thousand,” he stated, “after which I doubled it once more for precise measure, and figured that could more than suffice for the life of NT I picked the wide variety of 32G because of the restrictions and went on with my day. “

While Microsoft’s former CEO may have struggled to put clean water between himself and the infamous “640K” quote of many years ago, Plummer’s manner has become geared toward NT and may only be a transient aspect until the UI is revised. “That, however, is a deadly mistake on my part that no one needs to be excused for making.” With appropriate being the enemy of the precise, “precise enough” has endured for 25 years, and no one appears to have made any giant modifications to the format since then. However, as Plummer positioned it, “At the end of the day, it becomes an easy loss of foresight blended with the age-vintage hassle of the transient answer turning into de-facto permanent.”


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