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[ The PC Guide | Systems and Components Reference Guide | Hard Disk Drives | Hard Disk Logical Structures and File Systems | New Technology File System (NTFS) | NTFS Architecture and Structures ]

NTFS Volume Boot Sector

When an NTFS partition is first created, the first block of information created on the partition is the volume boot sector. This fundamental structure, which is part of a very small block of NTFS management information that is not stored within the master file table on an NTFS volume, is very much the analog of the volume boot sector under the FAT file system. Like volume boot sectors in FAT, the NTFS volume boot sector is sometimes called the partition boot sector, volume boot record or other similar names.

Note: Despite the use of the word "sector" in the name of this structure, the volume boot sector can in fact be up to 16 sectors (8 kiB) in length.

The NTFS volume boot sector begins in the first sector of the partition, and consists of two different primary structures. Again, these are similar to the structures in a FAT volume boot sector:

  • BIOS Parameter Block: This is a block of data that contains fundamental information about the volume itself. This block identifies the volume as an NTFS partition, and includes such information as the volume label and its size. In addition, NTFS provides for an extended BIOS parameter block, which contains additional information about the volume such as the location of the key metadata files.
  • Volume Boot Code: This is a small block of program code that instructs the system on how to load the operating system. With an NTFS volume, this code will be specific to Windows NT or 2000, whichever is installed on the system. It will generally load NTLDR, the NT loader program, and then transfer control to it to load the rest of the operating system. Note that this code is also present in the partition as a system (metadata) file.

The volume boot code on a FAT file system partition is a favorite target of virus writers, as changing this code can allow a virus to automatically load whenever the system has started. The higher-security design of Windows NT and 2000, however, makes it more difficult for viruses in the boot sector code to spread, due to the fact that the operating system maintains tighter control over disk access routines once it has loaded. (Viruses are still possible on Windows NT/2000 systems, of course.)

Next: NTFS System (Metadata) Files

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