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The New Technology File System (NTFS) is the standard file structure for the Windows NT operating system. It is used for retrieving and storing files on the hard disk.
The NTFS introduced a number of enhancements, including innovative data structures that increased performance, improved metadata, and added expansions like security access control (ACL), reliability, disk space utilization, and file system journaling.
The NTFS replaced the OS/2 High-Performance File System (HPFS) and the Windows 95 file allocation table (FAT), which were used in MS-DOS and earlier operating system versions. NTFS is also used with Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003.
NTFS was initially designed for the Intel i860 XR processor released by Microsoft in 1993. Although IBM and Microsoft worked together to create the graphical operating system known as the OS/2, they disagreed on many important issues and they eventually separated. IBM continued to work on the OS/2, while Microsoft started working on Windows NT.
The OS/2 HPFS had many new features that were also used with Windows NT. Both HPFS and NTFS share the same disk partition identification type code (07), which is unusual because there are dozens of codes available.
The new reliable features of the NTFS include a fault tolerance system that automatically repairs hard drive errors without error messages. The NTFS also retains detailed transaction records that keep track of hard drive errors. This feature is beneficial in recovering files if the hard drive crashes; it also helps to prevent hard disk failures.
Other beneficial features of the NTFS include security access control, improved metadata, file system journaling and disk space utilization. NTFS allows authorizations (like write, read or execute) to be set for files and specific directories. These file directories can also be located across more than one hard drive, but appear as one volume called a spanned volume. In Windows NT, a spanned volume is referred to as a volume set with volumes that can span up to 32 hard disks.