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  1. CDFS - CD-ROM File System
  2. CIFS Browsing Protocol (Common Internet File System)
  3. Distributed File System (DFS)
  4. FAT File System & File Allocation Table (FAT)
  5. Flash File System (FFS)
  6. Hierarchical File System (HFS)
  7. Journaled File System - (JFS)
  8. New Technology File System (NTFS)
  9. Understanding File Systems
  10. Windows Future Storage (WinFS)
images/bullet2.gifOrganized HD Presentation Outline by Gene Barlow
images/bullet2.gifGoogle Directory - Computers Software Operating Systems File Systems
Personal Computer File Systems:

Disks, Volumes, Partitions & File Systems -

The structure used by an Operating System, of naming, accessing, organizing and storing Files and Directories on a Disk. FAT, FAT32, NTFS and HPFS are common File Systems used on Personal Computers. Windows 2000 & WinXP Pro support the first three File Systems mentioned. HPFS is only supported under Windows NT versions 3.1, 3.5, and 3.51. Windows NT 4.0 does not support and cannot access HPFS partitions. (HFS) Hierarchical File System is used in the Mac.

Before deciding which File System to use, one should understand the benefits and limitations each File System offers. Changing a Disk Volume's existing File System can be tedious, so choose the File System best suited to your long-term Storage needs. If you decide to use a different File System other than the default choice, always Back Up your Data Files first before proceeding further!

Windows File Systems:
Windows Operating Systems File Systems
Windows 2000/XP NTFS, FAT16 and FAT32
Windows NT 4.0 NTFS and FAT16
Windows 95/98/Me FAT16 and FAT32

The 12-bit FAT File System is used on FAT volumes smaller than 16 MegaBytes in size, such as Floppy Disks.

A little knowledge of File Systems becomes apparent and necessary when Dual Booting Operating Systems with different File System support capabilities. Match your File System requirements to the corresponding Technologies you require use thereof.

And remember, repetitive Disk Access of Files causes Fragmentation so Defrag accordingly!

Disk -
A physical Data Storage Device attached to a computer. There are Basic & Dynamic Disks. Disk Configuration is accomplished through Disk Management in Win2000 & WinXP Pro.

Disk Volume -
A Volume is a portion of a Physical Disk functioning as though it were a Physically separate Disk. In 'My Computer' & 'Windows Explorer', Volumes appear as Local Disks such as C: or D: Drives.

Partitions -
A portion of a physical Disk functioning as though it were a physically separate Disk. Partitions can be created only on Basic Disks. For more on Basic Disks, see: Disk Management.

Partition Boot Sector -
A portion of a Hard Disk Partition containing information about the Disk's File System and a short machine language program that loads the Windows Operating System.

  1. Microsoft file patent faces exam CNET Microsoft FAT File System Patent (6/12/2004).
  2. NTFS vs. FAT Which Is Right for You: NTFS!
  3. - Disk Devices and Partitions
  4. File Systems: Win2000 Resource Kits
  5. - Multibooting with Windows XP
  6. - Active@ Partition Recovery
  7. Partition Zapper - Deletes Partitions When FDISK Won't


Distributed File System (DFS):

Software that keeps track of files stored across multiple networks. When the data is requested, it converts the file names into the physical location of the file so it can be found.

Quoting Microsoft, "The Microsoft Distributed File System (DFS) is a Network Server Component that makes it easier for you to find and manage data on your Network. DFS is a means for uniting files on different computers into a single name space, making it easy to build a single, hierarchical view of multiple file servers and file server shares on your Network. ...DFS can be thought of as a share of other shares."

DFS overcomes the limitations of UNC - Universal Naming Convention by Mapping the Physical Storage into a Logical Representation. The Net Benefit - The physical location of Data becomes transparent to Users and Applications. Hence, better mining of Data!

  1. Distributed File System—Frequently Asked Questions: Windows Server 2003
  2. Distributed File System:
  3. Step-by-Step Guide to Distributed File System (Dfs):
  4. Q241452 - How to Install Distributed File System (DFS) on Windows 2000:
  5. Step-by-Step Guide to Distributed File System (Dfs): "The examples provided in this document assume you have already configured the Active Directory service, and have administrator permissions for both the Domain and the Server where you will be configuring DFS."
  6. Microsoft Distributed File System - Windows NT Server 4.0: "A Distributed File System provides a single tree structure for multiple shared volumes located on different Servers on a Network. A user accessing a volume on a DFS tree does not need to know the name of the Server where the volume is actually shared."
  7. Farsite: Federated, Available, and Reliable Storage for an Incompletely Trusted Environment.
    1. Farsite File System
  8. Distributed File Systems Part I:


CIFS Browsing Protocol (Common Internet File System):
  1. (Common Internet File System): "A Network Protocol for sharing files, printers, serial ports, and other communications between computers. CIFS is based on the widely-used SMB, Server Message Block, protocol."
  2. images/bullet2.gifCIFS Common Internet File System
  3. images/bullet2.gifImplementing CIFS
  4. Browse Master: "The Browse Master, maintains the [Network] browse list."


Flash File System (FFS):

File System with robust power off recovery - Media will not corrupt if power is lost during a file modification.

Intel Flash Memory SOFTWAREBuilder CFI: Common Flash Memory Interface (CFI). CFI has been approved by the Nonvolatile Memory subcommittee of JEDEC to become a standard.

"The JEDEC Solid State Technology Association (Once known as the Joint Electron Device Engineering Council), is the semiconductor engineering standardization body of the Electronic Industries Alliance (EIA), a trade association that represents all areas of the electronics industry."

  1. Flash Memory File-System Options - PDF File.
  2. Novtek - NVM Info. Page: Non-Volatile Memory


(HFS) - Hierarchical File System:

A file organization method that stores data in a top-to-bottom organization structure. All internal access to the data starts at the top and proceeds throughout the levels of the hierarchy. The file system used in the Macintosh.


(JFS) - Journaled File System:

A File System containing its own backup and recovery capability. Before indexes on Disk are updated, information regarding changes are recorded in a log. If a power or other system failure corrupts the indexes as they are being rewritten, the Operating System can use the log to repair them when the system is restarted.

The Journaled File System is supported by OS/2 Warp Server & Linux.

  1. - Open source JFS project Web site: "IBM's journaled file system technology, currently used in IBM enterprise servers, is designed for high-throughput server environments, key to running intranet and other high-performance e-business file servers."
  2. SGI - XFS File System Home Page: "XFS® is the native file system for SGI® systems, from desktop workstations to supercomputers. Fully embraced by the open source community, XFS provides full 64-bit file capabilities and easily scales from gigabytes to exabytes to handle extremely large files. The XFS file system integrates volume management, guaranteed rate I/O, and journaling technology for fast, reliable recovery. File systems can be backed up while still in use, significantly reducing administrative overhead."
    1. SGI - Developer Central Open Source Linux XFS:


New Technology File System (NTFS):

The NT File System is used in Windows NT which uses the Unicode character set and allows file names up to 255 characters in length. The NTFS is designed to recover on the fly from hard disk crashes thus providing performance, security, reliability, and advanced features not found in any version of File Allocation Table (FAT). Windows NT supports multiple File Systems. It can run with a DOS/Windows FAT - FAT32, an OS/2 HPFS and a native NTFS, each in a different partition on the hard disk. NT's security features require NTFS be used. WinXP Pro uses NTFS 5. NTFS is a Hierarchical File System.

In a mixed NTFS environment, we suggest formatting ALL NTFS Drives with the more current NTFS Disk Management Tools. And even though a FAT32 Partition can be converted to NTFS, for performance reasons we also suggest only creating new NTFS Drives instead of converting existing FAT32 drives if you have that luxury.

Paraphrasing Microsoft, "The NTFS File System is available in WinNT Workstation, Win2000 Pro & WinXP Pro, but not in WinMe, Win98, or Win95.

NTFS is a Journaling File System. Meaning a File System keeping track of events that contain its own backup (transaction logging) and recovery capability. Before indexes on disk are updated, the information about the changes are recorded in a log. If a power or other system failure corrupts the indexes as they are being rewritten, the operating system can use the log to repair them when the system is restarted.

The only circumstance we've encountered when this did not work is when a System loses power during User LogIn. And this procedure requires a simple Password Recovery.

Each File System has its' uses and each was designed for a Technology for a time whether for Win9x or 64 bit Windows. As Storage capacities increase so too the need for File Systems better able to manage larger capacity HDD's. NTFS also provides file and folder permissions, encryption, disk quotas, and compression.

  1. 310749 - New Capabilities and Features of the NTFS 3.1File System: "Windows 2000 uses NTFS 3.0. NTFS 3.0 and 3.1 have compatible on-disk formats, so volumes upgraded to NTFS 3.1 by Windows XP can continue to be accessed by Windows 2000 or by Windows NT 4.0 with SP4 or later."
  2. 103657 - NTFS System Files:
  3. NTFS vs FAT32 FAT16 FAT.Comparing Performance: Comparison Chart.
  4. - File System Components: NTFS File System Components - "...FAT32, FAT16, and FAT12 implementations are legacy technology."
  5. - FAT16 and FAT12: Volume size & Cluster size
  6. Floppy Disk

All file systems supported by Windows have the following Storage Components:

  1. Volumes. A volume is a collection of directories and files.
  2. Directories. A directory is a hierarchical collection of directories and files.
  3. Files. A file is a logical grouping of related data.

Storage Devices and Partitions are not part of the File System, but are the required physical foundation for the Logical File System Components. For more information about disk devices, see Disk Devices and Partitions.

Since NTFS is the preferred File System, the documentation links above describe only the NTFS implementation of volumes, directories, and files. FAT32, FAT16, and FAT12 implementations are legacy Technology, and are not covered beyond general descriptions.

  1. NTFS & ADS (Alternate Data Streams)
  2. - NTFS: Platform SDK: Storage - Default Cluster Sizes
  3. Master File Table - MFT for NTFS (MBR)
  4. File Management Under NTFS
  5. Supported File Systems Under NTFS
  6. NTFS Recoverability


Advantages of NTFS File System include:

The Encrypting File System (EFS) Technology in Windows XP helps protect your sensitive data. If you encrypt a file with EFS, only you can open the file and work with it. This is especially useful on your laptop because even if someone finds it or steals it, they cannot access the files on your hard drive.

WinXP supports all three Files Systems - NTFS, FAT32 and FAT16. Utilizing FAT32 and FAT16 allows Windows XP and earlier versions of Windows to run cooperatively in a Dual Boot Configuration on one Computer with a singular Boot Partition HD.

  1. NTFS Data Streams - (ADS) Alternate Data Streams.
  2. Microsoft Windows 2000 Datacenter Documentation
  3. NTFS File System General Information
  4. Encrypting File System for Windows 2000


Understanding File Systems:
  1. - File Systems Overview: (10/23/2003).
  2. - FAT & NTFS File Systems in Windows XP: (3/17/2003).
  3. -  Choose the File System That Suits Your Needs:
  4. - Choosing Between File Systems: FAT, VFAT, FAT32 & NTFS
  5. Windows 2000 IFS Kit Backgrounder - Installable File System (IFS) Kit is a developer's kit for the kernel mode file system and file system filter driver models.
  6. MBR - Master Boot Record
  7. What are the maximum volume sizes and maximum file sizes for the various Windows file systems (11/14/2002).
  8. images/bullet2.gifInstall Windows XP Professional (9/20/2002).
  9.  Understanding File Systems
  10. Cluster File System -  Lustre Home
  11. - Compaq's Advanced File System and Utilities for Tru64 UNIX
  12. Distributed File System - InterMezzo File System Home
  13. HFS Unix Utilities - Several ports enable use under DOS, Win95/NT, and OS/2.
  14. r o x i o About File Systems and File Names
  15. Filesystems HOWTO (August 2000)
  16. Death of File Systems (Feb. 1996)
  17. ISO9660 Simplified for DOS-Windows
  18.  Joliet Filenames and ISO9660
  19.  Q140418 - Detailed Explanation of FAT Boot Sector
  20. SFS: Self-certifying File System. A secure, global network file system with completely decentralized control. A networked file system which provides security over untrusted networks. 
  21.  A Comparison of File System Workloads


Linux File Systems:
  1. Analysis of the Ext2fs structure - Table of Contents
  2. Ext2fs Home Page
  3. Design and Implementation of the Second Extended Filesystem
  4. Linux NTFS Project
  5. Linux VFAT Filesystem
  6.  ReiserFS - Fast journaling, based on fast balanced trees ans more space efficient. A File System using a plug-in based object oriented variant on classical balanced tree algorithms.
  7. SGI - Developer Central Open Source Linux XFS: A high-performance journaling file system.
Bios Limits
Boot Disk
Data Recovery
Dirty Bit
Disk Management
File Compression
File Conversion
Floppy Disk
Cluster File Systems
file-system detector NTFS vs FAT32 FAT16 FAT Comparing Performance.

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Web Development, Gill Boyd & Team - Posted 06/12/2001; Updated 04/26/2008