Excellent Russinovich post : The Case of the Failed File Copy

Mark Russinovich, one of my very favorite Windows experts, posted another excellent blog entry, "The Case of the Failed File Copy".  It’s a great example of how Windows file system abstraction, normally a great thing, can kick you in the ass at the wrong moment.

We think of the old FAT12 and FAT16 filesystems as being outdated, but they are still very much in use in digital cameras, PDA’s, and MP3 players.  Virtually every SD or micro SD card you pick up has a FAT filesystem, as do the vast majority of USB sticks.  (I’m certain that’s all of them, since I have yet to see a USB device formatted as NTFS!)  

There is no other "common" filesystem in the world but FAT.  This has caused me grief in transferring video files between PC’s and Macs since the only common format is FAT32 and it cannot create files larger than 2 gigs.  (By the way, Microsoft may have thrown a very misleading error message in this situation, but Apple, sadly, is no better.  All sorts of file copy errors and SMB protocol errors seem to result in an "error -35".  Much fun to figure out.)

Microsoft’s new filesystem, exFAT, to be in Vista SP1, promises to resolve these issues at least in part, but I’m not hopeful for it to be included in the next version of OS X after Leopard. 

Microsoft should just make virtue out of necessity and relax the licensing for FAT or even open it up completely, since it is already so ubiquitous.

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