Difference Between NTFS and Share Permissions

NTFS and sharing permissions are two types of access control mechanisms used in Microsoft Windows operating systems to regulate file and folder access. NTFS permissions are applied to files and directories on an NTFS-formatted volume. Share permissions are applied to shared folders and regulate network access to the shared folders.

Read this article to find out more about NTFS and Share Permissions and how they are different from each other.

What is NTFS?

Microsoft Windows operating systems use the NTFS (New Technology File System) file system to manage and store files on hard drives, solid-state drives (SSDs), and other storage devices. NTFS is a powerful file system with numerous features and advantages, including −

  • File compression − NTFS supports file and folder compression, which can reduce disc space and improve storage efficiency.

  • Encryption − NTFS offers file-level encryption, allowing for safe data storage and transport.

  • File permissions − NTFS allows administrators to establish particular rights for individual users or groups, providing for fine-grained access control over files and directories.

  • Large file and partition support − NTFS allows large files and partitions and is appropriate for modern storage devices.

  • Journaling − NTFS is a journaling file system that keeps track of changes made to files and directories. This helps to ensure that data is preserved in the event of a system crash or power outage.

  • Disk quotas − Administrators can create disc quotas for users or groups in NTFS, which can help prevent disc capacity from running out.

  • Symbolic links − NTFS allows for the creation of symbolic links, which are used to create shortcuts to files or folders.

NTFS has been the primary file system in Windows operating systems since Windows NT 3.1. It has been upgraded over the years with new features and improvements, such as support for alternate data streams, sparse files, and transactional NTFS. Overall, NTFS is a strong and capable file system that is required for modern computing.

What are Share Permissions?

Share Permissions are an access control feature in Microsoft Windows that regulates access to shared folders over the network. When a folder is shared on a network, share permissions determine which users or groups have access to the folder and what level of access they have.

  • Share permissions provide a simpler, less granular level of control than NTFS permissions, as they only control access to the shared folder itself rather than the individual files and folders within the share. However, they are essential for effective access control in Windows environments, particularly in workgroups or small businesses where network security is not as complex.

  • Share permissions can be set to allow or deny anonymous access, meaning users who do not have an account on the network can access the shared folder without logging in.

  • It is important to note that share permissions are only effective when the shared folder is accessed through the network. If a user has physical access to the computer hosting the shared folder, NTFS permissions will continue to apply to the individual files and folders included within the share.

Difference Between NTFS and Share Permissions

The following table highlights the major differences between NTFS and Share Permissions −

Characteristics NTFS Share Permissions
Types of access control Allow or deny various types of access (read, write, modify, and full control). Full control, change, and read
Security impact Control access to specific files and folders on the system. Control access to the entire shared folder on the network.
Security complexity More complex and granular Simpler and less granular
Compatibility Compatible with NTFS-formatted volumes only Compatible with FAT and NTFS-formatted volumes
Use with network protocols It can be used with SMB/CIFS, NFS, and other protocols. Designed specifically for the SMB/CIFS protocol
Location of permissions Stored on the local hard drive Stored on the network file server
User and group assignment Specific users and groups can be assigned permissions. Specific users and groups can be assigned permissions.
Purpose Regulates access to individual files and folders Regulates access to the shared folder itself.


In conclusion, NTFS and share permissions are two unique access control methods in Microsoft Windows that fulfil different purposes. NTFS permissions control access to individual files and folders, whereas share permissions control access to networked shared folders. NTFS permissions are applied directly to files and folders, whereas share permissions are applied to shared folders. The difference between these two types of permissions is important for successful access control in Windows environments.

Updated on: 10-Aug-2023


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