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V Guided Tour: Alternate Data Streams

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Alternate Data Streams

NTFS file systems (and only NTFS file systems) support "Alternate Data Streams" (ADS). These are basically "invisible" files that attach themselves to existing files. For example, when you enable "Thumbnails mode" in Windows Explorer, the thumbnail is sometimes stored in an ADS.

Unfortunately, this can take up a lot of disk space - and the user is oblivious to the fact! Windows does not provide a way to list/view the ADS and the only way to delete the ADS is to delete the entire file.

With ADS support enabled, V will display all streams attached to a file and it will let you view/print/delete them as if they were normal files.

With ADS Disabled

The following screen shot shows a typical directory listing - with ADS disabled.

With ADS Enabled

The following screen shot shows the same directory - but with ADS enabled. The Alternate Data Streams attached to each file are displayed.

ADS Disabled ADS Enabled

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