What Is NTFS? A Great Substitute For FAT

Jean updated on Jan 11, 2024 | Home > Knowledge Center

What Is NTFS?


FAT is also called File Allocation Table. It is a file system for personal computers. It allows data interchange between disparate systems. When data increases in disk drive capacity, three major FAT file system format are required: FAT12, FAT16, and FAT32. Nowadays, FAT file systems are still commonly found on floppy disks, modules, and so on. However, with the development of technology, FAT is no longer the default file system for Microsoft Windows computers.

There are some differences between FAT and NTFS. Given some functional flaws of FAT, NTFS comes out to improve the performance of the original file system. But you don't need to worry about how to transfer FAT to NTFS, Windows can convert FAT12/16/32 into NTFS without the need to rewrite all files.

What is NTFS

NTFS(New Technology File System)was first introduced in 1993. Specifically designed for management security features such as network and disk quotas, file encryption, and so on. Compared with the previous version, NTFS utilizes several files hidden from the user in order to store metadata of other files which is stored on the drive. It can help improve speed and performance when reading data. Under continuous upgrades and improvements, Microsoft has released five versions of NTFS: NTFS 1.0, NTFS 1.1, NTFS 1.2, NTFS 3.0, NTFS 3.1.

  1. Structure of NTFS
  2. Main Features of NTFS
  3. Functions of NFTS

Structure of NTFS:

  • Partition Boot Sector: This boot partition format is based on the earlier FAT filesystem, used to protect and boot partitions. It plays an important role in the operating system boot process.
  • Master File Table: Store a record of all files, directories, and metafile data in the filesystem.
  • Metafiles: It contains several files that define and organize the file system, like file name, creation date, access permissions, and size.
  • Data streams: Every file in the Master File Table will be recorded in their linear repository of stream descriptors. It describes the effective streams associated with that file.
  • Locking mechanisms: Allow clients to change their buffering policy for a given file or stream to improve performance and reduce network usage. Four different types of oplocks are supported: Level 2 oplock, Level 1 oplock, Batch oplock, and Filter oplock: Level 2 oplock, Level 1 oplock, Batch oplock, Filter oplock.

Main Features of NTFS:

  • Security: NTFS uses access control lists and user-level encryption to protect user data. Moreover, it can also decide the permission a user has to access a file or directory or perform an operation.
  • Stability: Files in NTFS file systems are less susceptible to viruses and system crashes.
  • Scalability: The NTFS maximum limit on the size of individual files is 16 EB. 
  • Fault tolerance: A technique called transaction login keeps track of changes to the disk that can recover errors in seconds.
  • Reliable: NTFS treats important transactions as one complete transaction, which is not completed until the entire transaction is completed, in order to avoid data loss.
  • Long filename: It supports 255 UTF-16 code units to break the FAT 8.3 limit.

Functions of NFTS

  • Journaling: As a file system, it uses the NTFS Log to record metadata changes to the volume. And the Log will monitor the entire operation. As for FAT, once the sector is corrupted, the entire file system will crash.
  • Error warning: If the disk sector of MFT is damaged, the NTFS file system intelligently moves the MFT to another sector of the disk, ensuring the normal operation of the file system. 
  • Self-healing: Every time the disk reads or writes, NTFS checks to see if the sector is correct. It can automatically detect and repair logical and physical errors on hard disks.


To sum up, NTFS is the process that Windows NT operating system utilizes to efficiently store, organize, and find files on a hard disk. Generally, it is used most often with the following Microsoft operating systems. So have all the comprehensive information, and you can pay attention to this term in your future work.

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Updated by Daisy

Daisy is the Senior editor of the writing team for EaseUS. She has been working at EaseUS for over ten years, starting as a technical writer and moving on to being a team leader of the content group. As a professional author for over ten years, she writes a lot to help people overcome their tech troubles.

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Written by Jean

Jean is recognized as one of the most professional writers in EaseUS. She has kept improving her writing skills over the past 10 years and helped millions of her readers solve their tech problems on PC, Mac, and iOS devices.

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