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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Logical Structures and File Systems ]

FAT File System Disk Volume Structures

The highest-level logical disk structures are the master boot record and partition tables, which define the way the entire disk is sized and organized. I explored these high-level structures in this section. Moving down to the next level of detail, we now will explore some of the key characteristics of each disk volume's internal structure. It is at this level that we examine such issues as the organization of files and directories on the disk volume.

This section takes a look at the disk volume structures used in the FAT file system. I start with a look at the file allocation tables (FATs) used for each volume. Then, I describe the way directories are structured within each volume, and describe the differences between root and regular directories. Finally, a full exploration of file names is provided, including a discussion of conventional DOS file naming conventions, long file name implementation under VFAT and FAT32, and a description of file attributes.

Incidentally, I should mention that the volume boot sector is also part of each disk volume, but it is discussed on this page in the major disk structures section. (Originally, I had a page on it here too, but it was just duplication, so I removed it.)

Note: The descriptions in this section are geared specifically towards the characteristics of the FAT family of file systems: FAT12, FAT16, VFAT and FAT32. Other file system share some of the same characteristics, but also differ in important structural ways. For more information on NTFS, see here. For more information on other file systems, check the appropriate pages in this section, which contain links to external pages with more detail.

Next: File Allocation Tables

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