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NTFS File System Frequently Asked Questions Part I

November 19th, 2009

Q: Is the boot limitation for NTFS still 7.87GB?

A: No. NTFS volume size limit is 2TB.

Q: Where can I get a lot of details about the NTFS encryption and security ?

A: Security (NTFS) and Encryption (NTFS,NTFS5) are wide topics.

You can get a lot of information about it on Microsoft’s MSDN Web Site (http://msdn.microsoft.com)

Security Topics: File Security and Access Rights

Encryption Topics: File Encryption , Encryption, Sparseness, and Reparse Points

Q: How do you lock files from other machine users on NTFS file system ?

A: NTFS has built-in security feature. Owner of the object can assign certain rights to certain users to restrict access to the object.

If file or folder is located on NTFS, just go to its Properties in Windows Explorer and on the Security tab add users being able access the object, and then remove Everyone user from users list, or restrict its rights.

Q: For Windows 2000 Professional using NTFS — Must All partitions be NTFS or can a FAT32 partition be functional as well?

A: Windows 2000 Professional as long as other Windows 2000 and XP family operating systems have full support for FAT32 and FAT16 file systems, as long as CDFS, HPFS, etc.

Operating system communicates with file system via logical level Win32 API that, in turn, redirects function calls to physical level (file system drivers), so if proper file system driver is installed, operating system can access and work with file system properly.

Drivers for NTFS, NTFS5, FAT12, FAT16, FAT32, CDFS are always installed when you install Windows 2000 / XP.
Drivers for NTFS, FAT12, FAT16, CDFS are always installed when you install Windows NT, there is no built-in driver for FAT32 in Windows NT.

Q: How do you format a blank hard disk drive to NTFS or NTFS5 ?

A: There are no standard utilities to format HDD to NTFS from DOS.

However there are solutions:

  • Attach HDD to another machine having Windows NT installed if you want to format to NTFS, or to Windows 2000 / XP if you want to format it to NTFS5. Then format drive using Disk Manager utility that is included in OS.
  • You can start Windows NT / 2000 / XP installation using bootable CD-ROM. On first steps of installation you will be asked about target location and you will be suggested to format the partition to NTFS. Go this way, and after format is completed, just cancel the installation process.

Q: Is there any problem with my games if I installed it under NTFS filesystem?

A: NTFS file system itself cannot cause problems to any software including games, because NTFS is just a way of data storage.

Software in Windows accesses files via upper-level Win32 API. Win32 API, in turn, redirects function calls to the drivers for the particular file system (NTFS/FAT/CDFS, etc.). Thus software, generally speaking, is not aware of file system it is installed on.

What could cause problems with games is Operating System itself. As long as Windows NT / 2000 / XP are more secure operating systems, and do not support 16-bit device drivers and real mode, some of games that work well under MS-DOS, Windows 95 / 98/ ME might not work under Windows NT / 2000 / XP.

Q: When Data is written to the NTFS disk at what position does in start the write? EG Assuming a file has been deleted (and deleted from the recycle bin if applicable) would it first overwrite this file, or would it start at the next totally unused cluster?

A: It depends on many factors including file system fragmentation, free space, etc.

In most cases it would start with a next totally unused cluster.

Q: When deleting a file at work from a HDD what is the best way to ensure that the file cannot be recovered? ie that the data no longer exists on the drive, rather than just resetting the flag of the relevant file/cluster? Is there any way NTFS will do this? Registry hacks e.t.c?

A: There are no standard mechanisms for this.

Please use third party privacy software (such as Disk Wiper feature in ZDelete) to eliminate unused MFT entries and overwrite clusters containing deleted data.

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