What is NTFS. Explained!

NTFS also called as New Generation File System is the file System which was introduced in Windows NT back in July 1993. A file system developed by Microsoft which surpasses FAT(File Allocation Table) and Windows 95 File system.

Many advancements were done in FAT with the introduction of NTFS.  A file system used to support large file in the range of few billion bytes, NTFS has many popular features as compared to previous legacy FILE systems.

Support for Integrated File compression was introduced in NTFS along with many other features which include: 

  • Improved support for metadata.

  • Use of advanced Data Structure to improve performance.

  • Greater reliability.

  • Support for large file sizes and encryption.

  • Less time needed for searching a file by minimising disk access.

  • Average file search time is LOG N in NTFS as compared to N/2 in FAT where N is the total number of files in the system.

  • NTFS file system allows automatic file compression prior to being written freeing up hard disk space.

Apart from all these features NTFS also provide supports disk usage quotas. Disk usage quotas are set by an administrator to restrict the amount of disk space that a user can take up (just like in Distros based operating system). It is used mainly to control the amount of shared disk space someone can use, usually on a network drive.

In NTFS, encryption of individual file or folder is also made possible with the introduction of Encrypting File System(EFS) rather than encrypting the whole hard drive.

NTFS is also a journaling file system, which means it provides a way for system changes to be written to a log, or a journal before the changes are actually written. Coming to security aspects File level access writes were also introduced. Each file or folder is assigned a security descriptor that defines its owner. For example, files in the C:/Program folder may be read and executed by all users but modified only by a user holding administrative privileges.

Another feature introduced in this file system is called transactional NTFS. This feature allows software developers to build applications that either completely succeed or completely fail. Programs that take advantage of transactional NTFS don’t run the risk of applying a few changes that do work. Other features such as scalability, Alternate Data Streams(ADS), Volume shadow copy was also introduced in this system.

Wiki page of NTFS provides complete in-depth information of NTFS file system. You can also refer this guide for more in-depth information.

A new system called as exFAT is now introduced which is designed to be used in places where NTFS doesn’t work well particularly in flash drives.

Though this much improvement in File System does not come without an expense. NTFS has various limitations too majorly which include File naming limitations (no distinguishing between uppercase and lowercase) and High Disk overhead

‘But this is the expense even Microsoft was willing to pay in this fast growing tech era where hard disk space is not a big deal.’

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