I don't tell you anything new if I mention that FAT32 sucks. In my experience, it is simply one of the weakest and slowest known filesystems you can use.
But, unlike NTFS or all of the possible Linux filesystems, it is supported widely on most of the current operating systems such as Windows, Linux or even Mac OS X.
For that reason, I used to have my external USB hard drive formatted with FAT32. I didn't really feel comfortable about having 80 Gigs as a FAT32 filesystem, but I wanted to access the drive on Linux and Windows equally so it seemed to be the only possibility.
Two days ago, the drive died. Windows said it was unformatted, Linux gave the (more useful) information, it had a specific error in the superblock information. Tests with both the harddrive and its USB enclosure led to the assumption that the hardware was still intact. However I could not repair the file system that used to be on there - let alone even accessing it at all.
So, eventually I had to re-format the drive and on a fellow student's advice (thanks, hughesw!!) I tried out to use the - fairly new - ext2 installable file system driver for Windows.
<!--more-->What should I say? I'm impressed. It works flawlessly like any other "native Windows" file system and it's at lease as fast or even faster than the FAT32 thing I used to have before!
Also, just in case the file system has problems again at some time, I can use a proper fsck on the file system and - obviously unlike FAT32 - I have the faint hope to retain my data at all!
That being said, the ext2 IFS driver for Windows still seems to be "a little beta" so I would not necessarily trust it for important data (especially when writing, as this can be the most complicated or even devastating process). However, we apparently shouldn't trust FAT32 at all, too ;) So this seems to be a great file system for USB drives that you want to use on different OSes.
Does anybody know if OS X is able to access ext2 file systems, by the way?