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One of the big draws with NTFS is file encryption, the black art of making files unreadable to anybody who doesn t have the right key You can encrypt a single file, a folder, and a folder full of files Microsoft calls the encryption utility in NTFS the encrypting file system (EFS) , but it s simply an aspect of NTFS, not a standalone file system To encrypt a file or folder, right-click it in My Computer and select Properties to open the Properties
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dialog box (Figure 1021) Click the Advanced button to open the Advanced Attributes dialog box As you can see in Figure 1022, encryption (and compression) is simply a selectable checkbox Click the box next to Encrypt contents to secure data and then click the OK button instantly your file is safe from prying eyes! Encryption does not hide files; it simply makes them unreadable to other users Figure 1023 shows a couple of encrypted image files Note that in addition to the pale green color of the filenames (that you can t tell are pale green in this black-and-white image), the files seem readily accessible Windows XP can t provide a thumbnail, however, even though it can read the type of image file (JPEG) easily Further, double-clicking the files opens the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer, but you still can t see the image (Figure 1024) Better still, you can try to access the files across your network and the
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10: Implementing Hard Drives
Windows XP Home and Media Center editions do not support EFS
Encryption protects against other users, but only if you log out It might seem obvious, but I ve had lots of users get confused by encryption, thinking that the PC knows who s clicking the keyboard! All protections and security are based on user accounts If someone logs into your computer with a different account, the encrypted files will be unreadable We ll get to user accounts, permissions, and such in later chapters in detail
Figure 1024
Windows Picture and Fax Viewer blocked by file encryption
encryption does precisely what it s supposed to do blocks unwanted access to sensitive data Remember that encryption is separate from the NTFS file security provided by the ACL to access encrypted files, you will need both permission to access the files based on the ACL and the keys used to encrypt the files (which are stored in your user profile, typically under C:\Documents and Settings\%username%\Application Data\Microsoft\ Crypto\RSA) Fortunately, Windows makes this process transparent to the end user, automatically checking the ACL and decrypting the files as needed
Disk Quotas
NTFS supports disk quotas , enabling administrators to set limits on drive space usage for users To set quotas, you must log in as an Administrator, right-click the hard drive name, and select Properties In the Drive Properties dialog box, select the Quota tab and make changes Figure 1025 shows configured quotas for a hard drive While rarely used on single-user systems, setting disk quotas on multi-user systems prevents any individual user from monopolizing your hard disk space
Cluster Sizes
Unlike FAT16 or FAT32, NTFS enables you to adjust the cluster sizes, although you ll probably rarely do so Table 103 shows the default cluster sizes for NTFS
Figure 1025
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Table 103
Drive Size
512 MB or less
NTFS Cluster Sizes
Cluster Size
512 bytes 1024 bytes (1 KB) 2048 bytes (2 KB) 4096 bytes (4 KB)
Number of Sectors
1 2 4 8
513 MB to 1024 MB (1 GB) 1025 MB to 2048 MB (2 GB) 2049 MB and larger
By default, NTFS supports partitions up to 2 terabytes (2,199,023,255, 552 bytes) By tweaking the cluster sizes, you can get NTFS to support partitions up to 16 exabytes, or 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 bytes! That might support any and all upcoming hard drive capacities for the next 100 years or so With so many file systems, how do you know which one to use In the case of internal hard drives, you should use the most feature-rich system your OS supports If you have Windows 2000/XP/2003/Vista, use NTFS FAT32 is still often used on external hard drives because NTFS features such as the ACL and encryption can make access difficult when moving the drive between systems, but with that exception the benefits of NTFS make it your best choice on a Windows-based system
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