NTFS format support might finally make its way to Android 14

File formats are not issues that really bother you until you run into a situation where for one reason or another, your flash disk is not being recognized by a multimedia device, or you can not open some files on your external hard disk. Although there are numerous file formats out in the wild, the most common ones include the FAT32 and NTFS formats

FAT32 format has been around for a long time and is what most multimedia devices support straight out of the box. On the other hand, NTFS is relatively new and offers various advantages over the FAT32 format, yet its uptake is still comparably lacking to the extent that it is extremely difficult to copy files over from your Android device to a flash disk that has been formatted in NTFS.

A few of the advantages that NTFS hold over FAT32 include the ability to support files that are larger than 4 GB, having no limitation of maximum partition size, better security for files and folders as well as a higher read and write speed.

You might now be wondering, despite all these advantages, why is NTFS not widely leveraged by Android? The answer is simple, it has to do with licensing. NTFS is a proprietary file system from Microsoft, made to work with Windows, and not integrated into the Linux kernel.

Now that Google is keen on working on devices with big form factors, including tablets that regularly get connected to external drives with different file formats, it is becoming more prudent to get NTFS working natively on Android.

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Android watcher, Mishaal Rahman, already reported that read/write abilities in NTFS had already been incorporated into version 5.15 of the kernel. This was back in August. However, there were still limitations that would prevent full compatibility from being initiated through a future update, the main one being that the volume daemon, which is Android’s storage mounting device needed to be updated to support NTFS, something only Google can do.

The positive news, however, is that Google has developed a utility that fixes the common NTFS problems, which is a sign that the tech giant is actively developing towards a more comprehensive rollout of NTFS support on the platform.

When this will be ready is impossible to tell at this time, unless Google provides their timeline. However, if you are running Android 13 or older, it is unlikely that you will benefit from this. All the signs point towards Android 14 being the first Android version to receive full NTFS compatibility, especially if Google keep up the pace of development.


Header image source: Tom’s Guide

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Naftaly is a Computer Science graduate with a passion for tech, video games and pop culture. When he is not writing articles for AndroidKenya, he is probably rewatching the Lord of the Rings trilogy for the hundredth time. Email at criskariuki@gmail.com Twitter @KarisNaftaly