Essay: File Allocation Table (FAT)

Essay: File Allocation Table (FAT)
11/04/2011 Comments Off on Essay: File Allocation Table (FAT) Academic Papers on Information Technology,Sample Academic Papers admin

Sample Essay

The FAT file system got its name because of the central structure it uses to manage the data on the drive. File Allocation Table (FAT) is the place where information about clusters is stored. Every cluster has an entry in this table that describes how it is used.  This is used to tell the operating system which parts of the disk are empty and which is in use.  The FAT entries are used by the operating system to group together clusters through chaining. Chaining is the process by which clusters are linked to each other through their entries in FAT, which contains the address to the next cluster in use by the same file.

The FAT is located in the area of the disk which immediately follows the volume boot sector. Each volume of the disk actually contains two copies of the FAT which are identical. The first is called the Primary FAT while the second one serves as the back-up.  The idea behind keeping a backup copy is the keep the damage to primary FAT to a minimum as the secondary FAT can then be used to retrieve the lost information (Kozierok).


In FAT32, each file is stored in a directory. A directory is a table which contains information about the subdirectories and files it contains and links to where they begin on the disk. Each entry in the directory has a length of 32 bytes and stores information such as:

File Name and Extension

Traditionally this field is 11 characters long of which 8 characters are used for the file name and 3 are used for extension of the file. It is also used to indicate the deleted files in the directory.

File Attribute Byte

A file can have different attribute attached to it. These can be Archived, Hidden, System or Read-only. This byte is also used to indicate that the entry is a directory or a file and is used by the root directory to store the Volume Label.

Last Change Date/Time Stamp

This field is used to record the date and time of the last time a directory or a file was changed.

File Size

This field stores the size of the file in bytes.

Link to Starting Cluster

These fields record the number of clusters on which a file of subdirectory starts. It provides the starting point for reading data in other files and other directories.

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