New Features in Windows Server 2003
Version 3.1 of the NTFS file system changed the location of the Master File Table and two metadata files and modified the header information in the file records. This was done to improve performance.
When you upgrade a Windows 2000 or NT machine, any existing NTFS volumes are upgraded to NTFS 3.1. You are not asked for permission and there is no workaround. If you dual-boot between operating systems, make sure you are running NT4 SP6a or Windows 2000 SP1 or later. If you fail to take this precaution, you risk getting blue screen stops when attempting to boot in to the earlier operating system.
The following additional new file system features have been added or modified in Windows Server 2003:
There is now a command-line version of the defragmenter that can be scheduled. The new defragmenter can also defrag the Master File Table (MFT), which can dramatically improve performance.
The system automatically places critical system files at strategic locations on the drive. It also periodically relocates commonly used files to improve performance.
Improved NTFS conversions.
The processes for creating and converting FAT and FAT32 partitions to NTFS have been reworked to minimize fragmentation and speed up conversion. Also, the conversion assigns restrictive permissions to the converted files rather than giving full access to the Everyone group. This enhances security for converted volumes.
In Windows Server 2003 and XP, when an executable is opened, a record of the linked DLLs is stored in the \Windows\Prefetch folder inside a file with a .pf extension. The system also keeps track of how often the file is launched. Every three days, the system jockeys executable files around on the volume to pack the most commonly used files at the front. It also defrags them to make sure they load as quickly as possible.
Short file names preserved.
In previous versions of Windows, when you do a tape backup or a file copy, the short file names associated with the files and folders are not included in the backup. When you do a tape restore, the short names are regenerated. This can cause problems for applications that expect to see a particular file name. In Windows Server 2003, the backup API includes the original short name.
Writable CD/DVD support.
Microsoft licensed technology from Roxio (a spin-off from Adaptec) that permits writing data directly to CDs and DVDs. This is not a full-blown packet-writing engine, as you may be accustomed to seeing in third-party products, but it does make it fairly simple to drag and drop files onto a CD-R or CD-RW or DVD-RAM drive.
After being the red-headed stepchild of alternative Windows NT operating consoles for the longest time, Microsoft finally moved Posix completely out of the core operating system. Posix support is available for Windows Server 2003 as a fee-based add-on called Microsoft Interix. The current version of Interix is 2.2.
Improved WebDAV support.
Windows 2000 introduced the capability of doing network file transfers using HTTP rather than SMB. This implements an emerging set of technologies called Web-based Distributed Authoring and Versioning, or WebDAV. The WebDAV support in Windows Server 2003 and XP improved considerably thanks to the introduction of a dedicated redirector. Also, file property information used by WebDAV is now stored in named data streams inside the NTFS file record.
If you are currently an NT administrator, here is a list of NTFS 3.0 features introduced in Windows 2000 and covered in this chapter:
Consolidated security descriptors.
NTFS files and folders are protected by security descriptors that control access and define the operations that can be performed. Starting with NTFS 3.0, the security descriptors were moved from a resident attribute in the individual MFT records out to a separate database. This improved performance and simplified the file system operations required to support permission inheritance.
Distributed Link Tracking.
Files that are the object of shortcuts or other object linking and embedding (OLE) links are tracked down automatically if they are moved. This works both on the local system and if the file is moved to another computer in the domain.
Enables mounting local volumes and devices regardless of their format, such as CD and DVD drives or even tape drives, as a folder on an existing volume. When you open the folder containing the reparse point, the system opens the target volume or device instead.
Permits limiting the total space on a volume that a user can have when saving data.
Provides a quick way for applications to find out if files have been modified. This feature is used by the Content Indexing service, the File Replication service, and the Volume Shadow Copy service.
Encrypting File System.
Allows encrypting files so that only the user who encrypted them and selected administrators can read them. See Chapter 17, "Managing File Encryption," for more information.
This feature permits applications to keep large files while not actually using all of the requested space.
This feature creates catalog files that speed up searches for words and phrases. The catalogs are available to network clients as well as local users.
Finally, if you have been working with FAT or FAT32 exclusively and Windows Server 2003 or XP is your first introduction to NTFS, this chapter covers these legacy NTFS features:
Short filename generation.
For backward compatibility with DOS applications and clients, the file system automatically generates a short (8.3) filename when a file or folder has a long name. The short-name algorithm is different than Windows 9x.
In NTFS, individual files and folders can be selectively compressed. The system decompresses them on-the-fly when they are accessed.
Named data streams.
An NTFS file can store more than one discrete set of data in the same file record. The standard notion of "data" in a file is stored in a default, unnamed data stream. Additional data streams are identified by name. Many Windows Server 2003 features take advantage of this capability.
The NTFS file system protects critical system files by saving the changes to a log file first then committing them to the file system records at a later time.