How To Use NTFS Alternate Data Streams

Summary

The documentation for the NTFS file system states that NTFS supports multiple streams of data; however, the documentation does not address the syntax for the streams themselves.


The Windows NT Resource Kit documents the stream syntax as follows:

filename:stream
Alternate data streams are strictly a feature of the NTFS file system and may not be supported in future file systems. However, NTFS will be supported in future versions of Windows NT.


Future file systems will support a model based on OLE 2.0 structured storage (IStream and IStorage). By using OLE 2.0, an application can support multiple streams on any file system and all supported operating systems (Windows, Macintosh, Windows NT, and Win32s), not just Windows NT.

More Information

The following sample code demonstrates NTFS streams:

Sample Code

   #include <windows.h>
#include <stdio.h>

void main( )
{
HANDLE hFile, hStream;
DWORD dwRet;

hFile = CreateFile( "testfile",
GENERIC_WRITE,
FILE_SHARE_WRITE,
NULL,
OPEN_ALWAYS,
0,
NULL );
if( hFile == INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE )
printf( "Cannot open testfile\n" );
else
WriteFile( hFile, "This is testfile", 16, &dwRet, NULL );

hStream = CreateFile( "testfile:stream",
GENERIC_WRITE,
FILE_SHARE_WRITE,
NULL,
OPEN_ALWAYS,
0,
NULL );
if( hStream == INVALID_HANDLE_VALUE )
printf( "Cannot open testfile:stream\n" );
else
WriteFile(hStream, "This is testfile:stream", 23, &dwRet, NULL);
}
The file size obtained in a directory listing is 16, because you are looking only at "testfile", and therefore
type testfile
produces the following:


This is testfile
However
type testfile:stream
produces the following:


The filename syntax is incorrect
In order to view what is in testfile:stream, use:
more < testfile:stream
-or-
mep testfile:stream
where "mep" is the Microsoft Editor available in the Platform SDK.
Properties

Article ID: 105763 - Last Review: Nov 21, 2006 - Revision: 1

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