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Thread: NTFS and FAT32, working together

  1. #1
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004

    NTFS and FAT32, working together

    OK here goes, this is a question that I was thinking about this weekend and I couldnt get anyone to answer this (ive gotten different answers)

    Say : You have 2 seperate HDD's, one is NTFS the other is FAT32, you keep all your program files, on the NTFS drive and the FAT32 drive you use to download stuff.

    The question is since fat32 cant (or shouldnt be able to) detect the NTFS drive, if you were to download a file to the fat32 drive that contained a virus, could it propagate to the NTFS drive on its own. I know it can if you allow it to by copying a file from the fat32 to the NTFS, but Im asking, if the virus could do it on its own.

    I was thinking of setting up my comp at home this way, and was wondering if doing this offered more security then having both drives as NTFS.

    My teacher said no, but a point that got brought up was a virus that was in memory, im not that knowledgable in how a virus actually works, so I figured that I would ask the experts.

    btw, i wasnt syre where to put this, since its not really an antivirus question, but it does discuss how to "not get bitten by them"

    and one other thing, I was wondering if there were any other benefits of having the main drive be NTFS and the other bieng FAT32

  2. #2
    Just a Virtualized Geek MrLinus's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Redondo Beach, CA
    NTFSDos allows for FAT16 and FAT32 to recognize and read NTFS partitions.

    As for the virus, if you launch the virus on the FAT32 partition using a Win2K/NT/2003/XP system, it's the system that gets the infection, not the partition. And I don't recall any OS specific viruses in the Windows family (it's kinda all windows or not windows IIRC).
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  3. #3
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2001
    NTFSDos allows for FAT16 and FAT32 to recognize and read NTFS partitions.
    This is kind of nitpicking, but FAT16 and FAT32 are file systems. They cannot actively go and read another file system. All they can do is present their data to an OS that can read it. NTFSDos allows the DOS OS to read NTFS partitions.

    Your best bet to minimize the potential impact from a virus that is trying to detroy data files, say MS office files, it to use NTFS and use permissions correctly.

    So everytime that you are going to use your computer to do school work, you will want to protect the files that you generate. Log in with an account called student. That account should be the only account that has access to the directories where you are storing your data. Make sure to never download questionable material with this account. This account should only be in the user group, maybe power users.

    When you want to download stuff that could potentially have a virus in it, that is it's not from a trusted source, log in with an account called download. Make sure this account is only a member of the users group, and make sure that it has write permissions on as few folders as possible.

    You should only log in as administrator when you need to install software/updates or make changes to your configuration.

    Using your system like this can be frustrating at times, but if you are getting files that tend to be infected, and you don't trust your AV software, it is the only way to be safe. Using your system this way will also prevent most IE web vulnerabilities from getting you.

  4. #4
    Just Another Geek
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Rotterdam, Netherlands
    I think you're mixing things up. FAT32 and NTFS are both filesystems. It depends on the OS you are running at that time which enable you to read one or both. Win XP/2000 supports both filesystems, Win9x only support FAT32 (unless you use ntfsdos).

    So to answer your question, if you are running XP and you've downloaded and started a virus on your FAT32 partition the virus CAN AND WILL infect files on your NTFS partition.

    If you've setup your drives like you said your security actually goes down instead of up.

    The only benifit of having a FAT32 partition is when you dual boot between XP/2000 and Win9x. If you're on XP all the time you're better off with NTFS.
    Oliver's Law:
    Experience is something you don't get until just after you need it.

  5. #5
    Junior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2004
    Ok, well I though I would ask seeing as I couldnt find a straight answer...... I know about using permissions and such with 2000 and XP, but I was trying to think of other things that could possibly help. Also I do use seperate acounts for my day to day stuff, and for when I need access, also protected by STRONG passwords (but thats another thing to talk about).

    Ok let me get this right (or at least more than I do allready)
    If you ae using an NT system, it doesnt matter if the virus is on a fat drive or a NTFS drive, because the OS can read both. and that the OS will access both drives for information, even if you arent telling it to.

    and a couple things that should have been said in my first post here, the virus I was thinking about was any virus that goes and tries to delete files, second, the OS that the theoretical system runs on is NT based.

    The reason I was thinking about this is because im currently in a course that puts me on track for the security+ cert (yeah I know its simple) and my brain has been thinking network security for a couple of months now.

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