How to install HPFS support in Windows NT 4.0

HPFS is the file system used by OS/2 (and which unlike NTFS can also be accessed by Linux and [with appropriate drivers] read by DOS and Windows 95-ME).

As Windows NT actually started life as OS/2 before Microsoft and IBM parted ways, HPFS support was actually built into early versions of Windows NT. It was only when Microsoft introduced Windows NT 4.0 that the support for HPFS was removed.

In fact, support for HPFS was not completely removed from NT 4.0, only the driver that supplies HPFS support and the install process for that driver were removed. It is therefore possible to add HPFS support back into Windows NT by installing the missing driver. Some people have packaged up the missing driver and other routines that they have created to automate the install process but the following tells you how to do the install manually if you do not have one of these pre-packaged installs.

Note that this old driver only works if all of your HPFS partition sizes are 4Gb or smaller. Also note that I have only tested this with NT4 and it may not work with 2000. I have been informed by a reader that it does not work with Windows XP (and therefore I assume it wouldn't work with Windows 2003 either).

You will need to log on as an administrator to do this install.

The driver that was removed is Pinball.sys which can be found on the third of the NT 3.51 install disks. This file needs to be copied into C:\Winnt\system32\drivers (assuming that you installed NT on C:\).

You now need to run regedt32 to add several entries to the registry. The entries need to be added to


The new entries that you will need to add will go in a new sub-folder called pinball. The entries that you need to add are:

GroupREG_SZFile System

After doing this you will need to reboot the computer so that Windows NT can recognise the new entries that you have just added.

Next go into Control Panel and open the devices folder. You should now find pinball in your device list. You will need to press the Startup button to tell Windows NT to start this device when NT first starts up. If you want to access HPFS partitions immediately without rebooting, you will also need to press the Start button.


This article written by Stephen Chapman, Felgall Pty Ltd.

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