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Convert Or Completely Reinstall NT 4.0 

Windows NT 4 supports two file systems: FAT and NTFS. Many users realize the advantages of NTFS only after they've already installed the operating system on a FAT partition. They are faced with what appears to be an easy-to-solve dilemma: use a conversion utility (such as Convert.exe that ships with Windows NT 4) to convert from FAT to NTFS, or completely reinstall the operating system and all applications on an NTFS partition.

Most users choose the first option--conversion. This solution makes the most sense, because reinstalling the operating system and all applications can take a very long time, and time is something we typically don't have. Conversion is indeed the easiest solution, but it's not always the best. For performance and efficiency reasons, you'll want to reinstall the OS and all applications. The first problem with conversion is that it uses 512-byte (yes, bytes, not kilobytes) clusters. Such small clusters have an enormously negative impact on performance.

The second conversion performance problem can be attributed to the master file table (MFT), which includes references to all folders and files stored on the NTFS partitions. MFT is similar to a FAT table in a FAT file system. When you convert your file system from FAT to NTFS, MFT is created and placed somewhere in the middle of the partition--not at the beginning like when you perform a fresh format. This causes slower access to the MFT and higher fragmentation of other files. You can easily defragment the files, but because of the small cluster size and MFT placement, you'll still notice the performance penalty of conversion.

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