Master File Table or MFT is a system file in the NTFS file system used by Windows OS that keeps all the information about the files and directories and acts as an index on the NTFS disk, providing quick access to the information needed to retrieve a file.
Every file and directory on an NTFS disk has a unique record in the MFT, known as an MFT entry. The entry contains metadata like name, permissions, timestamps, and a pointer to the data of the file. The MFT entry is modified every time when a new file is created or an existing file is modified.
When a file is deleted from the disk, the respective MFT entry is marked free, but the actual data is still residing on the disk until it gets overwritten by other data. This can help in recovering deleted files. However, to recover them, we shouldn't save anything new over the old data areas.
MFT is a very important component in the NTFS file system, it must remain safe and undamaged for the proper functionality of the disk.
The structure of the MFT record is very complex, and each record is 1024 bytes, so they can be easily parsed. The general structure of MFT is:
dir /a $mft - This command yields the current size of the MFT on a Windows NT–based computer. The command should be typed on NTFS volume.
When MFT gets corrupt, NTFS synchronizes the copy of MFT i.e. MFT mirror. Sometimes when NTFS is unable to synchronize; the CHKDSK (check disk) utility can be used. In certain cases, when the MFT is severely damaged and even CHKDSK fails to repair MFT, NTFS recovery software can be used.
Recover files from NTFS - The Master File Table can be damaged due to a virus attack, resulting in missing/lost files and folders from the NTFS partition. You might lose important files under such conditions. You need not worry about the loss, as the article provides an easy recovery option.
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