The New File System ReFS on Windows 8 Detailed

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Building Windows 8 just posted another essay about the next generation file system on Windows.

ReFS, which stands for Resilient File System, is the next generation file system for Windows. It’s build right on the foundations of NTFS, the most widely used, advanced, and feature rich file system, to maintain the crucial compatibility while meeting a broad set of customer requirements for both todays and tomorrows.

According to the post, the goals of designing a ReFS system are:

  • Maintaining a high degree of compatibility with a subset of NTFS features.
  • Verify and auto-correct data.
  • Optimize for extreme scale.
  • Never take the file system offline.
  • Provide a full end-to-end resiliency architecture when used in conjunction with the Storage Space.

And the key features of ReFS are:

  • Metadata integrity with checksums
  • Integrity streams providing optional user data integrity
  • Allocate on write transactional model for robust disk updates
  • Large volume, file and directory sizes
  • Storage pooling and virtualization makes file system creation and management easy
  • Data striping for performance (bandwidth can be managed) and redundancy for fault tolerance
  • Disk scrubbing for protection against latent disk errors
  • Resiliency to corruptions with “salvage” for maximum volume availability in all cases
  • Shared storage pools across machines for additional failure tolerance and load balancing

There are a lot more detailed in this epic type of post, which might be just too technical to most of us. But here are some of the key factors from the FAQ at the end of the post that might be helpful knowing about.

What are the capacity limits of ReFS?

A table worth many words:

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 Can I convert data between NTFS and ReFS?

Too bad, no. You can copy the data between the two systems but not directly converting them. This is going to be quite a pain!

Can I boot from ReFS in Windows Server 8?

Unfortunately, no

What features of NTFS are not supported on ReFS?

To name a few, named streams, object IDs, short names, compression, file level encryption (EFS), user data transactions, sparse, hard-links, extended attributes, and quotas.

What about RAID?

ReFS leverages the data redundancy capabilities of Storage Spaces, which include striped mirrors and parity. Another words, other than mirroring and parity integrity, no other forms of RAID are supported.

What about the read performance?

It’s expected to be similar to that of NTFS.

What do you think?

I hope this won’t upset you as you read to this point. For own understanding, it’s the feature more for Windows Server 8 but not meant to be widely used on Windows 8 client. As I finished up reading the post, I still haven’t got the clear picture of why we need this.

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1 COMMENT

  1. This file system i.e. ReFS looks obvious and might be not used in majority. Though, if counted after excluding some features, it looks good and might worth trying.

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