What Is the NTFS File System?

by Nick Davis

The NTFS File System is the file organization structure for today's Microsoft Windows operating system. NTFS stands for New Technologies File System. Currently, it is the leading file system available for Microsoft Windows operating systems. NTFS is needed to organize and access information on a hard drive disk, optical media, diskettes, and other media.


The first version NTFS was released in 1993 when the Windows NT operating system was introduced. Today, Windows 2000, XP and Vista are all built on basis of NT and NTFS technology.


Prior to NTFS, the FAT (File Allocation Table) file system was used within the first versions of Windows, Windows 95, 98, and ME. First introduced in 1980, FAT went through several revisions: FAT12, FAT16 and FAT32. It supported folders, long file names and large disk sizes.

NTFS Versions

NTFS has several versions available for the many versions of Windows Operating Systems. NTFS versions installed on the latest versions of Windows are also known as NTFS 5.0, NTFS 5.1 and NTFS 6.0.

Stable and Reliable

NTFS is not only more stable than FAT, but it also more reliable. All changes to files under NTFS are "journalized," which allows the system to roll back the state of a file after a crash of the program using it or a crash of the system.

NTFS and Searching

NTFS is faster and more efficient than FAT when it comes to searching. No matter what the size of the directory, NTFS is faster.

About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.