Technology

What Is NTFS and How Does It Work?

NTFS (NT file system) or new technology file system is a process that the Windows NT OS uses for organizing, storing, and finding files on a hard disk quickly and efficiently. NTFS was introduced in the year 1993 and it was a part of the Windows NT 3.1 release. Keep reading to know more about NTFS.

What is NTFS?

NTFS is the file system that is used by the Windows NT OS for storing, as well as, retrieving files on HDDs and SSDs. It is equivalent to the Windows 95 file allocation table or FAT and the OS/2 HPFS (high performance file system). NTFS, however, offers many improvements over HPFS and FAT in terms of extendibility, performance, and security.

A computer’s operating system creates and also maintains the file system on a device or storage drive. Essentially, the file system organizes the data into files and it controls how the files are named, updated, stored, and retrieved and all the other information associated with the files like user permissions and file ownership.

NTFS is a type of file system and generally, file systems are differentiated by the operating system and the type of drive that they’re being used with. Today, you’ll also find a DFS or distributed file system where files are stores across several servers but can be handled and accessed as if they were locally stored. You can even open NTFS on MAC and leverage its advantages.

What are the features of NTFS?

  • File clusters are tracked with the help of a b-tree directory scheme
  • Support for long file names and very large file names
  • Information about the file’s clusters and other such data is stored with each cluster
  • An access control list that allows a server administrator to control who can access the files
  • Integrated file compression
  • A journaling file system refers to providing a way for system changes to be written in a journal or to a log before the changes take place
  • Transactional NTFS
  • EFS offers file-level encryption which means that individual folders and files can be encrypted
  • Data security on fixed and removable disks

How does NTFS works?

When installing an operating system, users have to choose a file system. Users also have to choose a file system when formatting an HDD or an SDD. The process of formatting each type of drive is a bit different, but both are compatible with NTFS.

When an HDD is initialized or formatted, it is divided into several partitions and these are the important divisions of the hard drive’s physical space. The OS keeps track of the files stored within each partition. On the HDD, each file is stored in one or more disk spaces or clusters of a predefined uniformed size.

Utilizing NTFS, the sizes of the clusters can range from 512 bytes to about 64KB. For each drive size, Windows NT offers a recommended default cluster size. For instance, a 4GB drive has a default cluster size of 4KB. Since the clusters are indivisible, the smallest file takes up 1 cluster and a 4.1KB file takes up 2 clusters.

The sizes of the cluster are determined on the basis of balancing a tradeoff between maximizing the use of disk space and reducing the number of disk accesses that are needed to get a file. Generally, with NTFS, the larger the driver, the larger the size of the default cluster. This is because it is assumed that a system user is going to prefer to have fewer disk accessed and high performance at the expense of less efficient space usage.

When you create a file using NTFS, a record of the file is going to be created in the MFT or master file table. The 2nd record will be used to locate the file’s scattered clusters. NTFS typically looks for a storage space that will help in holding all the clusters of the file, but it is not able to always find one space all together. Along with the content of the data, each file contains its metadata.

Advantages of NTFS

  • Control – NTFS’s primary feature is the use of disk quotas and this gives enterprises more control over storage space. Disk quotas can be used by administrators to limit the amount of storage space that a user can access.
  • Better performance – NTFS utilizes file compression and this shrinks the size of the file to enhance the file transfer speeds. This gives businesses more storage space that they can work with. Also, it supports large files.
  • Security – NTFS comes with an access control feature and this enables administrators to place permission on sensitive information so that access is restricted to some users. Also, it supports encryption.
  • Easy logging – Administrators can track the files that have been added, deleted, or changed. Since NTFS is a journaling file system, it logs transactions in the file system journal.
  • Reliability – Files and data can be restored quickly in the event of an error or system failure. NTFS is a fault-tolerant system and has an MFT mirror file that can be referred if the first MFT gets damaged.

So, here’s everything that you need to know about NTFS.

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