File Recovery

NTFS Multiple Data Streams

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User's guide:

NTFS File Types

NTFS Multiple Data Streams

NTFS supports multiple data streams, where the stream name identifies a new data attribute on the file. A handle can be opened to each data stream. A data stream, then, is a unique set of file attributes. Streams have separate opportunistic locks, file locks, and sizes, but common permissions.

This feature enables you to manage data as a single unit. The following is an example of an alternate stream:

  • myfile.dat:stream2

A library of files might exist where the files are defined as alternate streams, as in the following example:

  • library:file1
  • :file2
  • :file3

A file can be associated with more than one application at a time, such as Microsoft® Word and Microsoft® WordPad. For instance, a file structure like the following illustrates file association, but not multiple files:

  • program:source_file
  • :doc_file
  • :object_file
  • :executable_file

To create an alternate data stream, at the command prompt, you can type commands such as:

  • echo text>program:source_file
  • more < program:source_file


When you copy an NTFS file to a FAT volume, such as a floppy disk, data streams and other attributes not supported by FAT are lost.

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