NTFS 101

NTFS (which stands for New Technology File System according to abbreviationfinder), is one of the most powerful, flexible and robust file systems today.


This system as such is based on a structure called MFT (Master File Table), which contains detailed information on the files.

NTFS allows the use of long names, although, unlike FAT32, it is case sensitive.

In terms of performance, access to files on an NTFS partition is faster than on a FAT type partition, as it uses advanced data structures (B + Tree) to locate files. In theory, the size limit for a partition is 16 exabytes (17 billion TB).


NTFS is a file system specifically designed for Windows NT (including Windows 2000, Windows 2003, Windows XP, and Windows Vista versions), with the goal of creating an efficient, robust, and security-built file system from the ground up.

It also supports native file compression, encryption (the latter only as of Windows 2000) and even transactions (only as of Windows Vista). It is based on the IBM / Microsoft HPFS file system used in the OS / 2 operating system, and also has certain influences from the Apple- designed HFS file format.

NTFS has replaced the previous Microsoft file system, called FAT, common to MS-DOS and early versions of Windows. This new system incorporates many improvements over the FAT system such as improved compatibility with metadata, and the use of advanced data structures (B-trees) to optimize performance, stability, and use of disk space, as well as new additional features, such as security, access control lists or journaling. [See on the map File System – Formats Node]

The minimum recommended size for the partition is 10 MB. Although larger sizes are possible, the maximum recommended in practice for each volume is 2 TB (Terabytes). The maximum file size is limited by the size of the volume.


It requires a good amount of hard disk space for itself, so it is not recommended for use on disks with less than 400 MB free.

It is not compatible with MS-DOS, Windows 95, Windows 98, or Windows ME.

It cannot be used on floppy disks.

NTFS versions

  • 2 in NT 3.51, NT 4
  • 0 on Windows 2000
  • 1 on Windows XP, Windows 2003 Server, Windows Vista, and Windows 2008.

These versions are sometimes called v4.0, v5.0, v5.1, v 5.2, and v 6.0 in relation to the version of Windows in which they were included. Newer versions have included some new features, such as disk quotas and volume mount points.


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