USB SSD: exFAT or NTFS for Windows system?

I just installed a USB SSD to my Windows 10 system and am moving my sample libraries to it. I noticed that it's formatted as exFAT. Is that okay for audio samples? Or should I start over and format it as NTFS?

I'm not using the drive for portability (e.g., sharing it with a Mac), rather this will just be used with my Windows setup.

Thanks.

Windows 10 Home v2004 OS build 19041.1083

Comments

  • Angus
    Angus admin
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    Hi @XilburQost

    You can run libraries with ExFat format, but the load time will be considerably slower- which will be very annoying in the long run. You are much better reformatting to NTFS, particularly if you can back up the drive elsewhere before reformatting.

    More info here: https://spitfireaudio.zendesk.com/hc/en-us/articles/360005061413-What-format-should-my-drive-be-And-how-do-I-change-the-format-

  • @Angus Thank you. That's what I thought. I got the drive yesterday and used Samsung's built-in formatter, but it didn't occur to me that it would format as anything other than NTFS; I've never heard of ExFat before now.

  • Angus
    Angus admin
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    @XilburQost ExFat is a format that works on both Mac and Windows- hence why most hard drives are shipped in this format. You then reformat depending on which OS you are using before putting data onto the drive.

  • Edward
    edited July 13

    wrong.


    "FAT32 and exFAT are just as fast as NTFS with anything other than writing large batches of small files"....

    https://www.pcworld.com/article/3047448/heres-the-free-way-to-make-your-usb-drive-faster.html

    loading samples into RAM is not writing to disk. Reformatting the drive is not a big deal, but the disk format itself won't make it faster in this case.

  • @Edward I did some stopwatch testing of samples load times with exFAT versus NTFS and the latter was faster, on my system at least. Not scientific, but NTFS is what's working for me.

  • like I said reformatting is no big deal. It's not like I care what disk format you use. But this is not the first time SA has purveyed info wrt Windows hardware or OS that is inaccurate. Repeat: NTFS is NOT faster for LOAD times than exFAT. Too say nothing of "considerably". The only time you will see a savings (of what - a few seconds?) is when you WRITE to disk.

    Believe the experts, or your stopwatch? "not scientific" is becoming an issue in this society.

  • Angus
    Angus admin
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    @Edward I have to disagree with what you have said here because it will mislead our customers. First, our policy and wording above is based off years of experience with our customers- where reformatting hard drives from ExFat to NTFS, or Mac OS Extended (Journaled), has decreased load times. Additionally, this is exactly what Native Instruments recommends in the case of Kontakt Libraries.

    Secondly, the article you have linked does not provide any information and statistics to prove the opinion that the author is voicing. If you wanted to point to a more scientific article, I would suggest this one:

    The article you linked also is not specific to running sample libraries, where Random Read Speed is the most important factor (not Write speed). For example, when you are playing a library, you are randomly asking the hard drive to extract specific data sets (samples) in order for the library to work. In the article above, you can clearly see that their tests have proven NTFS is 40% faster than ExFat when it comes to Random Read Speeds- and in my book, that is considerably faster!

  • FWIW there are also free utilities out there to test read/write speeds if your media drives. Select the drive, press the button and You’re done


    https://www.aja.com/products/aja-system-test?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIl_vLw8zi8QIVunRvBB2bDQvVEAAYASAAEgJlPvD_BwE

  • Edward
    edited July 14

    Angus if that were really true you wouldn't be discouraging people from using NTFS drives which operate at about 4X the speed of SATA. You go ahead say what you want to say.

    I'm sure if you dig around long enough you'll find something to support your view. however -

    "When reading a small number of large files from a USB3 disk, all three file system performed almost identically with a small 2% performance improvement for the exFAT file system and an even smaller 1% performance improvement for the NTFS file system."

    Same article you cited.

    I use NTFS myself, because Windows - which I have used almost since it came out - comes with the utility to format that way. And I also use the fastest drives I can afford. (hint) because why wouldn't I?

    PS whether a KONTAKT (which I've used since 2002. )instrument loads quickly or not depends on whether it loads all samples into ram or uses DFD.

  • Angus
    Angus admin
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    @Edward just to be clear, we are encouraging users to use NTFS. The article you are discussing does not talk about Sample libraries specifically, which is a completely different area when it comes to discussing hard drive type and format, compared to generic file types. As mentioned, the area to focus on with Sample libraries, particularly those using DFD- are the random read speeds, which are considerably faster is NTFS.

    Hope that clears it up once and for all!

  • This was a great read! I had to reformat my drives to switch over to PC (something I don't have a lot of knowledge in), but I never switched them to a format just for Windows. I'm gonna give it a try and see if I notice any speed difference. Thanks everyone!

  • I referenced the same article you did.

    "When reading a small number of large files from a USB3 disk, all three file system performed almost identically with a small 2% performance improvement for the exFAT file system and an even smaller 1% performance improvement for the NTFS file system."

    I use NTFS. But what you are saying to me is don't use NVME with a 4X boost in speed because that's overkill, but be sure to reformat your SSD for a 1% boost.