Have you ever needed to know when an NTFS partition was created or when a drive was first initialized by Windows and available for use? Check out this article to learn how to find this information by yourself.
NOTE: The instructions presented in this tutorial apply to both Windows 7 and Windows 8.
What is The System Volume Information Folder?
The easiest way to find this information is to look at the System Volume Information folder. This folder is found on all the partitions where Windows has access. It is automatically created by Windows when it detects a new partition and it stores important things such as:
- System Restore points created by Windows for that partition (if it is set to create them).
- Distributed Link Tracking Service databases used to keep information about the creation and movement of linked files across your NTFS partitions.
- Indexing Service databases used for making fast file searches.
- Shadow Copies created by the Volume Snapshot Service that backups files specified by System Restore or Windows Backup.
The folder is hidden by default and you need to set Windows Explorer (in Windows 7) or File Explorer (in Windows 8) to show hidden operating system files and folders.
Enabling Windows Explorer/File Explorer to Show Protected System Files
In order to view this folder, you first need to open the Folder Options window in Windows Explorer/File Explorer.
There, in the View tab, scroll down until you find the option which says: "Hide protected operating system files (Recommended)".
Make sure this option is NOT checked. Then, check the option which says: "Show hidden files, folders, and drives".
Now click OK and you can view the System Volume Information folder on all the partitions.
Viewing the Date When the Partition Was Created
If you look at the Date created column, you can see the date when this folder was created. This date should be very close (in many cases identical) to the date when the partition was created.
Depending on the way Windows Explorer/File Explorer is configured, you might be able to view only the Date modified column, instead of Date created. Make sure you pay attention to this very important detail, as these columns share very different information.
If you need help in adding the Date created column to your Windows Explorer/File Explorer view, read this extensive tutorial: Configure the Default Viewing Templates in Windows Explorer to be as YOU Want Them!.
Caveats to This Method
This method is the easiest way to get a good approximation of the date when a partition was created. However, it can show false data in some scenarios:
- If you don’t create the partition directly from Windows, this folder doesn’t get created with it, automatically. The folder is created the first time Windows identifies the new partition. If you open Windows a few days later after the partition was created, the creation date listed for the System Volume Information folder will be different than the actual partition creation date.
- If you have only one partition, which you used to install/remove/install different operating systems, Windows will show the date when it created the folder, not when the partition started existing.
I would like to share the credit for this useful tip. It’s real author is the user Amazed from the Super User community. I simply happened to stumble upon this interesting discussion Is it possible to determine when a NTFS partition was created? and decided to complete the tip with more useful information. In the form it was shared originally, users might not notice they are looking at the wrong data column. I hope I managed to add more value to people looking for this information.