A file system is the mechanism that defines the structure of the files stored in a computer storage device. The system establishes a hieratical design in which system and user data is stored. Files and directories are allocated space and recorded into the file system for easy retrieval.
The file systems used in windows XP are NTFS (New Technology File System) and FAT (File Allocation Table). FAT was developed for the earlier operating system but later versions of FAT are used with Windows XP. NTFS is the latest file system for windows and it has more features than the FAT file system. File systems control how the computer handles the bits that comprise a file. The compression and encryption of files depends on the file system.
Most of the modern operating systems uses can operate on either the FAT or the NTFS file system or with both systems. The file systems determines how the files are handled during the compression, encryption, storage and retrieval from the storage device (Carrier, 2005).
The choice of the file system to use depends on the storage device and the target operating system. This paper looks at technical operation of FAT and NTFS on windows XP and how they handle file compression, encryption, storage and retrieval.