Recently, I wrote about the great freeware tools available at the Sysinternals Web site (see “Sysinternals Web site has great freeware Windows 2000/NT and 9x/Me utilities”). In this Daily Feature, I’ll show you how to set up their free driver, NTFS for Windows 98 (NTFS98). This NTFS file system driver allows you to read any NTFS drives present on your system from within Windows 95, 98, and Me. If you want to write as well as read to NTFS drives, you can purchase a full version of NTFS98 for $49 (U.S.). The NTFS98 read-only version is a handy addition for your IT utility belt.

How NTFS98 works
NTFS for Windows 98 uses Windows 2000 or NT’s own NTFS system files to function (you’ll need to have those files available when you set it up). Programmers Mark Russinovich and Bryce Cogswell designed NTFS for Windows 98 to run the native Windows NTFS driver within Windows 9x/Me. The driver simulates the Windows NT environment that the NTFS drivers were originally designed to use. Rather than relying on reverse-engineered code, by using the most up-to-date NTFS drivers provided by Microsoft in their service packs and bug fixes, you’ll always have the best code available.

Because you’ll be reading NTFS from within Windows 98, the Windows 2000/NT security model won’t be supported. Whatever permissions exist within Windows 2000/NT will not be respected inside Windows 9x/Me. You’ll want to be cautious about who receives access to the driver on your network. In addition, software-based NTFS volume sets, stripe sets, or mirrored drives aren’t supported. Finally, remember that support for NTFS can only begin after Windows 9x/Me has finished booting. Never convert your Windows 9x/Me boot partition to NTFS. It’s a good idea to always keep your disk’s primary partition formatted as FAT16. FAT16 is the universal language read by most operating systems that you might want to set up on a multiboot disk.

Preparing for installation
Before you install Ntfs98.exe, you’ll want to copy the Windows 2000/NT NTFS files to a FAT16 drive that’s accessible to Windows 9x/Me. On my multiboot system, C:\ is a small FAT16 boot drive used to hold boot files, DOS, and frequently used utilities. I created a folder within C: called NTFSforWin98 to hold these files. The following list contains the files you’ll need to copy, as well as their locations within Windows 2000/NT.

  • Autochk.exe (winnt\system32)
  • C_1252.nls (winnt\system32)
  • C_437.nls (winnt\system32)
  • L_intl.nls (winnt\system32)
  • Ntdll.dll (winnt\system32)
  • Ntfs.sys (winnt\system32\drivers)
  • Ntoskrnl.exe (winnt\system32)

Installing the driver
To install the driver, double-click the installation file, Ntfs98ro.exe, that you downloaded. At the Welcome screen, click Next to view the license agreement and click Yes to accept the terms. Next, accept the default destination directory or click Browse to enter a new location. Once again, click Next to accept the program folder name or choose a new name. Review your current settings. If you don’t wish to make any changes, click Next.

After copying files and creating icons, Setup asks for the location of the NTFS system files you copied earlier. You also have an opportunity to create drive letter assignments if you wish, though this is not necessary. This NTFS For Windows 98 Configuration screen is shown in Figure A. Clicking Advanced allows you to adjust these other values: Read Only, Write-Through, Checkpoint Interval, and Writeback Interval. To restate the caution provided by Setup: “Do not manipulate these values unless you understand what they are for.” It’s unlikely that the default values will need to be changed.

Figure A
Use the NTFS For Windows 98 Configuration screen to set the path to your Windows 2000/NT NTFS files.

Once you’ve finished setting your configuration, click Finish. When you reboot your computer, the NTFS driver will be activated.

Once I installed the driver, my multiboot system was able to read both NTFS partitions on this multiboot drive. As shown in Figure B, I used Windows Explorer to move through the folder hierarchy, testing whether I could load files into applications. As far as I could tell, the driver worked flawlessly. If you have Windows 98 machines that absolutely must read NTFS files, NTFS for Windows 98 is an excellent solution, provided free by Sysinternals. Now, if there were only a driver to read the Linux file system in Windows 98 or NT!

Figure B
Once I installed the driver, all folders, whether FAT16, FAT32, or NTFS, were visible in Windows Explorer.

Many solutions exist for enhancing your operating systems through third-party drivers. Did you know that Windows NT 4.0 can support USB ports? For more information, read TechProGuild’s Daily Feature, “Add USB support to NT 4.0.”The authors and editors have taken care in preparation of the content contained herein but make no expressed or implied warranty of any kind and assume no responsibility for errors or omissions. No liability is assumed for any damages. Always have a verified backup before making any changes.

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