ADS Definition & Meaning

Pronounced as separate letters, ADS is an acronym for alternate data stream. An ADS is a function of Microsoft Windows New Technology File System (NTFS), in which one file can be embedded in another but remains invisible to other users in Windows Explorer. This means the ADS does not affect the size, function, or display of the main file to which the ADS is attached. ADS was originally introduced in 1993 to ensure file server compatibility with the Macintosh Hierarchical File System (HFS).

Uses of ADS

ADS files may be used for a number of purposes. In legitimate applications, an ADS can be used in a variety of ways, including:

In more malicious circumstances, an ADS can be used to launch a Denial of Service (DOS) attack, embed executable files with viruses and trojan horses, or otherwise store illegal materials/records of illegal activity. As a result, ADS files are a common source of evidence for digital forensic scientists. Fortunately, Windows Vista introduced a native tool for identifying these such files and malware scanners have become attuned to preventing these types of attacks.

Webopedia Staff
Webopedia Staff
Since 1995, more than 100 tech experts and researchers have kept Webopedia’s definitions, articles, and study guides up to date. For more information on current editorial staff, please visit our About page.

Top Articles

The Complete List of 1500+ Common Text Abbreviations & Acronyms

UPDATED: This article was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   From A3 to ZZZ we list 1,559 text message and online chat abbreviations to...

How to Create a Website Shortcut on Your Desktop

UPDATED: This article was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   This Webopedia guide will show you how to create a desktop shortcut to a...

Windows Operating System History & Versions

The Windows operating system (Windows OS) refers to a family of operating systems developed by Microsoft Corporation. We look at the history of Windows...

What are the 5 Generations of Computers?

UPDATED: This article was updated on April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   Learn about each of the 5 generations of computers and major technology developments...

Random Access Memory (RAM)...

UPDATED: This article Updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   Random Access Memory (RAM)...

OEM – original equipment...

UPDATED: This article was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster OEM (pronounced as...

Best ERP Software for...

UPDATED: This page was updated April 6, 2021 by Web Webster   Enterprise resource planning...