NTFS VS APFS: What Are the Differences? [2023 Updated]

Roxanne updated on Nov 29, 2022 to Knowledge Center

A humongous amount of data is stored every day on hard drives. But do you know you need a proper file system to store data on hard drives?

Yes, a file system is the only way to store, manage, and organize different types of data on hard drives. No matter which operating system you use, a file system is necessary to store files on the connected hard drive.

Windows and Mac are the leading operating systems, and both have their dedicated file systems, named New Technology File System (NTFS) and Apple Files System (APFS). Users are quite interested in NTFS Vs. APFS. In this article, we will get into this contest and highlight the differences, advantages, and disadvantages of both.

What Is NTFS?

NTFS is a journaling file system developed by Microsoft. It was introduced in 1993 with Windows NT 3.1, and now it is the default file system of the Windows NT family, superseding the Files Allocation Table (FAT), which had several limitations. These limitations include limited single files and partition size with no data protection in the case of a power failure.

In comparison to its predecessor, NTFS resolves these limitations. On top of this, it also offers numerous advantages according to modern-day needs.

NTFS offers some really intriguing features, such as supporting metadata and using advanced data structures to improve performance, reliability, disk space utilization, and several additional extensions. Besides this, below are the main advantages and disadvantages of NTFS.

Advantages of NTFS:

  • Data Security: NTFS offers file protection with the help of file encryption features. It takes information security to a new level. 
  • Incredible Data Handling: Hard drives are getting bigger and bigger with each passing year. NTFS incredibly manages large hard disks with over 2TB memory capacity with ease.
  • Segmentation: NTFS provides excellent segmentation and segregation by setting up permissions for individual users. Different users may have different levels of access to a particular file or folder.
  • Data Compression: Files and folders of any size are compressible in NTFS volumes to a maximum extent. Moreover, you can directly access compressed files and folders without decompressing them through third-party software.
  • Disaster Recovery: The file system can restore all the data in the case of a system crash with the help of log files and review point information.

Disadvantages:

  • Compatibility: It's the most prominent disadvantage of NTFS. Android, the leading smartphone operating system, doesn't support NTFS, and it's the biggest setback. Also, NTFS formatted drives don't work on Mac computers, and you need third-party software to deal with them. Moreover, other digital devices, such as DVD players and digital cameras, do not support NTFS storage devices.
  • Performance and bandwidth: Both these factors of the file system fluctuate a lot when it comes to NTFS. Users notice an unpredictable variation in speed and bandwidth.

What Is APFS?

APFS is the latest file system and the successor of Mac OS Extended. It was first introduced for macOS High Sierra 10.13 back in September 2017. Since then, it has been the default file system for macOS.

It is specifically designed for the latest flash/SSD storage types. However, it still works with older hard drives as well. The APFS offers multiple formats, such as APFS, Encrypted, Case-sensitive, and Encrypted Case-sensitive. 

APFS includes some noticeable features for data security, overall efficiency, and speed. Below are the key advantages and disadvantages of the APFS you should know.

Advantages:

  • Data Security: Apple pays great attention to data security, and the new APFS thoroughly focuses on it with impeccable encryption features. APFS supports multiple encryption models for each volume in a container, such as Unencrypted, Single-key encryption, and Multi-key encryption with per-file keys for file data and a separate key for sensitive data. 
  • Data Protection: APFS includes a snapshot feature that records the current state of the hard drive. It helps in reverting to the same point in case of any issue, such as accidental file deletion or modification, hardware failure, or catastrophic loss. 
  • Space Efficiency: The new file system by Apple offers maximum space efficiency by avoiding duplicate data. APFS doesn't duplicate the data in case of moving files. Instead, the metadata is updated, and the on-disk data is shared between locations.
  • Performance: APFS includes TRIM support that speeds up the overall data-write operation. Besides this, Apple uses I/O QoS (quality of service), which converts tasks into priorities, and focuses on resolving the critical processes on priority.
  • Data integrity: APFS ensure data integrity in three different ways which are: Error Correction Code (ECC) to check for transmission errors and correct them; copy-on-write scheme; and Fletcher's checksum algorithm for metadata operations.

Disadvantages:

Just like any other file system, APFS has some drawbacks. It misses out on multiple features which you get in other file systems. It includes:

  • Checksums of user data
  • Byte-addressable, non-volatile random-access memory
  • Data compression
  • Data deduplication

All these features offer numerous advantages.

NTFS Vs. APFS 

Microsoft and Apple always go neck to neck to offer the best to their users in every aspect. The same competition we see when it comes to a file system. As you know, it is a critical part of any operating system, and both Microsoft and Apple offer the best file system in the shape of NTFS and APFS. The NTFS Vs. The APFS comparison has a lot of factors to look up. We will clarify many points with the help of a table here. 

NTFS APFS
It has a max file size of 265TB. It has a max file size of 263 bytes.
It supports volumes as large as 8 petabytes. It supports up to 9 quintillions (1018) files.
The date resolution is 100 nanoseconds. The date resolution is 1 nanosecond.
It supports file compression. There is no support for file compression.

Apart from these key differences, both file systems support file names up to 255 characters. Transparent encryption of data is a significant feature of both file systems.

Final Verdict

Both file systems have their unique capabilities and limitations. It highly depends on your scenario, needs, and expectations. Windows will prefer NTFS if he has to share his drive with others. On the other hand, APFS is a perfect option for Mac users for its seamless compatibility.

FAQ

1. Should I install NTFS for mac?

You should install NTFS for mac if you work with NTFS formatted drives.

2. Is APFS best for mac?

APFS is the best for mac because it is the default file system for it. It works perfectly with Apple's ecosystem of digital devices.

3. Can APFS be read by Windows?

APFS is readable on Windows with the help of third-party tools, such as Paragon Software.

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