What Is NTFS, And How Does It Work?

What Is NTFS, And How Does It Work?

NTFS (New Technology File System) is a file system used in Microsoft Windows NT and its later versions.

It has several benefits over the older FAT32 file system, including minor disk space usage, better support for large hard drives, and faster disk access.

Where is NTFS Used?

NTFS, an acronym for New Technology File System, is a proprietary file system created by Microsoft. It’s the default file system for Windows NT and its subsequent versions, including Windows 2000, XP, Vista, 8, 10, or the latest Windows 11.

The NTFS file system was introduced back in 1993 with Windows NT 3.1.

It replaced the old FAT (File Allocation Table) file system used since MS-DOS first arrived in 1981.

In a way, it’s not correct to talk about “Windows” as having any particular file system—because there isn’t just one version of Windows: there are many different ones!

For example, there have been at least three different operating systems called “Windows 95”, each with its peculiarities; and even today’s version of Windows can be installed in several different configurations.

That said, at least 95% of current versions of Windows are based on a core set of code known as Win32 or Win64, depending on whether you use 32-bit or 64-bit software.

If you’re not sure what these terms mean, then please see our article on 32-bit vs. 64-bit computing. And all but the oldest versions of this core code use NTFS as their default disk format.

Is NTFS Good For Gaming?

NTFS is a great file system for gaming because all modern versions of Windows support it. Contrast this with FAT32, which has a disk size limit of 32GB and is not journaled.

When I reformatted my hard drive, I chose NTFS because it’s better than FAT32 in every way that matters.

NTFS vs. FAT32

NTFS is a newer file system than FAT or FAT32. It’s newer, safer, and better at managing disk space than those older systems.

If you’re interested in using NTFS as your primary file system on your computer, here are the differences between it and FAT or FAT32:

  • NTFS has built-in security features to help protect your data from unauthorized access.
  • NTFS is more efficient than FAT or FAT32.
  • NTFS has better recovery options than FAT or FAT32.

NTFS Permissions

The permissions for a file or folder control who can read, write, modify, or delete it.

For example, you might have a Word document that one person in your office should only open, so you can grant the creator of the file Read permission and deny everyone else.

How Do NTFS Permissions Work?

Each file and folder in an NTFS volume has an access control list (ACL). The ACL contains a list of access control entries (ACEs), which specify the properties of each user or group that is granted or denied access to the file or folder.

An ACE specifies whether a particular user or group has been granted rights to perform specific actions on the file/folder. These rights are called File Permissions.

Each ACE also contains information about how inheritance is applied to subfolders/files (subfolders will inherit their parent folder’s NTFS permissions).


If you’ve made it to the end of this article, you now know what NTFS is and how it compares with other file systems commonly used in Windows.

You also learn about the various pros and cons of using NTFS and how to determine which file system your drive is currently using.

You can change the file system on drive-by formatting it. Remember that this will delete all the stored data on that drive. If you have any data stored on a drive and want to change its file system, make sure to back up that data first.

Then format your drive as desired, restoring it from a backup once done. If you don’t have any data stored on a drive yet but want to use it for storage at some point in the future (say, an external hard disk), there’s no real reason not to format it with NTFS from day one.