An overview about Microsoft NTFS

By Connie | Posted to Home > Wiki, updated on June 11th, 2021 |

What is NTFS

Released in 1993 with Windows NT 3.1, NTFS, short for New Technology File System, is a proprietary journaling file system developed by Microsoft. Simply put, it is a process that the Windows operating system uses for reading, storing, organizing, and finding files on a hard drive effectively.

NTFS versions

Up to now, Microsoft has rolled out five versions of NTFS:

NTFS 1.0 : Released in 1993, its first operating system is Windows NT 3.1. It is the initial version of NTFS.

NTFS 1.1 : This version rolled out in 1995. Version 1.1 has added some new features, such as compressed files, named streams, and access control lists.

NTFS 1.2: An update of version 1.1. Released in 1996, NTFS 1.2 has added the feature of Security descriptor. It is also called NTFS 4.0 after the Windows NT 4.0 release.

NTFS 3.0: Unlike the previous versions, NTFS 3.0 (or called NTFS 5.0) has taken a qualitative leap. Released in 2000, it added multiple well-designed features, such as disk quotas, file system encryption, file system journaling, etc.

NTFS 3.1: An improvement for NTFS 3.0, this version expanded the Master File Table entries with redundant MFT record numbers. Users usually called it NTFS 5.1 after the Windows XP release.


Developed by Microsoft, NTFS has full read-write support on Windows, including Windows 10, Windows 8, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows XP, Windows 2000, and the initial Windows NT operating systems.


Linux and BSD (Blind spot detection) systems also have both read and write functionality for NTFS drives.


Apple has read-only permissions on NTFS drives on macOS by default. If you want to write files to NTFS drive on Mac, you need NTFS for Mac software, such as iBoysoft NTFS for Mac.

How to read/write NTFS drive on Mac?

Main features

As the primary file system of the current versions of the Windows operating system, this file system has a variety of advanced features over its precedent FAT (File Allocation Table) file system.

High security

NTFS has enhanced the data security to a higher level, allowing you to set permissions on a file or folder, which is usually called file system encryption. Only the users or groups that you specified will have the right to access your drives. And you can even select the users' access types, for example, read-only or read-write.

Flexible allocation of capacity

To allow the administrator to have the maximum authority of the disk space usage, NTFS uses disk quotas to track and control the amount of disk space. The administrator can restrict a user to use a specific amount of disk space (mainly the shared space), which adds the flexibility of capacity allocation.

Support File compression

NTFS also has the file system compression feature, which can maximize the amount of data that can be stored. It also allows adding unallocated space from the same or different disk to increase the size of an NTFS volume, offering more storage space for you.

Enable file system journaling

As a journaling file system, NTFS offers a feature of writing system changes to a log or journal before the changes are actually written. This working mechanism supplies a chance for you to avoid data loss when an event of failure happens. That’s because the new changes haven't been committed.

Enhanced reliability

Once a system corruption happens, NTFS can restore the consistency of the file system during a restart with the log or journal file and checkpoint information. It also can monitor, check, and correct transient corruption errors in the background while keeping the volume online. These enable your work with the volume more stable and durative.

Support large volumes

On Windows Server 2019 or newer, Windows 10, version 1709 or newer, NTFS has the ability to support volumes up to 8 petabytes. The volume sizes vary from the cluster size and the number of clusters.

For a 4 KB cluster, the largest volume and file size is 16TB. And the cluster size of 8KB correspond to a maximum volume and file size of 32TB. By that analogy, 16KB cluster to up to 64TB volume and files, etc.

The cluster size to the largest volume and file size

Maximum file name and path

For long file name support, NTFS stores an 8.3 alias on disk, supplying full compatibility with file systems that have set the limitation of an 8.3 alias on file names and extensions.

In terms of supporting extended-length paths, there are Unicode versions enable in numerous Windows AP. That allows an extended-length path of approximately 32,767 characters, which is far beyond the 260-character that the MAX_PATH set for the path.

Apart from the features mentioned above, NTFS also has other features. You can get more details from Microsoft.