ReFS - Welcome The Next Generation Of File System

Windows 8 is out with another new feature and this is bound to change some old basics. Steven Sinofsky announced in the Building Windows 8 blog that Windows 8 will be introducing the newly engineered file system. ReFS, (Resilient File System) based on the foundation of NTFS. This is the first major file system update in almost two decades.

While ReFS is essentially a whole new file system it maintains compatibility with NTFS. Architected and engineered for a new generation of storage technologies and scenarios, the ReFS will be launched only as a part of Windows 8 Server Edition, following the tradition of every file system launch ever.

The motivation behind a new file system was to scratch the weak parts of NTFS and build on the good parts for an optimal performance. ReFS is designed keeping a certain goals in mind, like verification and auto-correction of data, usage of scalabale structures and making sure that the file system is never taken offline. ReFS provides users with a lot of new features. Large volume, file and directory sizes, Storage pooling and virtualization, Data striping for performance, Disk scrubbing for protection and Shared storage pools across machines for additional failure tolerance and load balancing will all be a part of the new ReFS management system.


While building ReFS, re-usability of code was an important factor as it ensured compatibility with NTFS. The reused code is responsible for file system interface (read, write, open, close, change notification, etc.), maintaining in-memory file and volume state, enforcing security, and maintaining memory caching and synchronization for file data.

ReFS implements tables using B+ trees so that directories can scale efficiently, becoming very large. Files take the form of tables embedded within a row of the parent directory, itself a table. The rows that reside in the File Metadata table represent the various file attributes. The file data extent locations are given by an embedded stream table, which is a table of offset mappings. This allows files and directories to be very large without a performance impact. Apart from the global system metadata tables, the entries in the object table refer to directories, with files being embedded within directories.


For a robust disk update, ReFS  provides an allocate-on-write approach. This never updates metadata in-place, instead writes it to a different location in an atomic fashion. This approach is similar to “Shadow Paging” that is used to reliably update structures on the disk. In addition, Windows 8 provides compatibility between #-Link-Snipped-# and ReFS. Storage Spaces protect data from partial and complete disk failures by ensuring copies on multiple disks.

ReFS has been put to a vast amount of tests but being the first version, the blog suggests caution. A staged evolution has been planned for ReFS,  first as a storage system for Windows Server, then as storage for clients, and eventually landing as a boot volume.

Source & Image Credit:#-Link-Snipped-#


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