Beyond NTFS — ReFS is the next Windows file system

Microsoft is working on a new file system. This is of high interest to us, since PerfectDisk works so closely at this level. Over the years we have met regularly with the file system teams at Microsoft, and even collaborated on various initiatives. Greg Hayes, our Manager of Technical Solutions, is a 5-time Microsoft MVP (Most Valuable Professional) for file systems and storage. So we are paying close attention to developments in this area, and have ongoing R&D efforts attending to this.

I thought it would be appropriate to give a very brief, high-level overview of the new file system, and will certainly write more about it over the coming months. 

NTFS, almost always referred to as….NTFS, is Microsoft’s Windows file system that has been around since the days of Windows NT and Windows 2000 — a long time. It actually is the abbreviation for the New Technology File System, and followed Microsoft’s FAT file system. NTFS brought features such as sparse file support, disk usage quotas and file-level encryption, among other capabilities.

Microsoft’s next generation file system is ReFS (Resilient File System), which it has been working on for a long time now. With ReFS, Microsoft intends to keep most of it compatible with NTFS, or at least a subset of NTFS features that are widely adopted.

A primary goal of Microsoft for ReFS is to do a better job of ensuring data integrity than NTFS does. This is done through verification and auto-correcting data. As we all know, data can become corrupted for numerous reasons. ReFS will verify data and automatically correct the data if possible

Another high-level goal of ReFS is to deal better with large scales of data. To optimize for extreme scale, ReFS will use scalable structures for everything. It will make no assumptions that disk checking algorithms can scale to the size of the entire file system.

A third goal of ReFS is to never take the file system offline. This means that even in the event of data corruption, ReFS will attempt to isolate the problem and at the same time, allow access to the rest of the volume.

Finally, ReFS is designed to work with Microsoft’s new Storage Spaces. Storage Spaces let you pool both virtual and physical drives (regardless of how they’re connected) in a variety of ways, with the intent being to keep your data as safe as possible. It lets you expand individual storage pools on an as-needed basis, and various ways to mirror your data for some added redundancy. The “spaces” themselves behave just like a regular disk.

Ultimately, Microsoft states that “along with Storage Spaces, ReFS forms the foundation of storage on Windows for the next decade or more.”

ReFS will initially be available for Windows Server 2012, with support for the client in Windows 8 to follow. ultimately, it will also be available on the boot volume.

So here you have it, a quick primer on ReFS. More to follow.

Category: PC PerformancePerfectDiskStorage