Windows Server 2012 ReFS – Resilient File System

Windows 8 New ReFSWindows 8 ReFS

ReFS is Microsoft’s brand new replacement for NTFS, the ‘Re’ stands for ‘Resiliant’ and ‘FS’ means file system.

Windows 8 ReFS Topics

Guy’s Gut Feeling ReFS is Not Right

I had no forbodings when NTFS replaced FAT, but this new ReFS puts me on alert for problems. I confess I have nothing concrete, just a series of uneasy feelings.

  • I am shocked that you cannot boot from ReFS, that means you will have to mix and match NTFS on one partition and ReFS (optionally) on the others. Sounds like a recipe for confusion to me. (Microsoft say future versions of ReFS will be bootable.)
  • Why was WinFS cancelled, it seemed such a marvellous system?  That in itself makes me nervous, I would like to see the new system running – preferably on someone elses machine for a year before I became a convert.
  • Why only partial compatability with NTFS?  For example. there is no support in ReFS for disk quotas or removable media.


Features of Microsoft’s ReFS

The main focus of new features is resilience, for example, automatically correcting data errors. Verifying with checksum before the write commits, and thus avoiding "torn writes"; it works by allocate-on-write, which never updates metadata in-place, but rather writes it to a different area of the disk, rather like "shadow paging".

  • Making sure that internal structures are pliable to support large file system in the exabyte range.
  • Make it a rule never to take the file system offline. Instead isolate the fault while keeping the rest of the volume available. Windows 8 ReFS
  • Impliment Storage Spaces for ReFS.
  • Supporting very large file systems.  Maximum file size of: =2^64 bytes
    18,446,744,073,709,600,000 bytes
    18,446,744,073 gigabytes
    18 exabytes.

The graphic to the right shows how ReFS, uses some of the same code as NTFS, namely file system read, write, open, close, and change notification.

But below this NTFS equivelent is a new architected engine that takes care of the MFT (Master File Table).

Who Will Benefit Most From ReFS?
ReFS will be most useful on fileservers especially those with disk intensive applications that require high-performance. Data storage companies who need even larger storage systems that are currently available with NTFS may turn to ReFS.

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Evolution of ReFS from FAT

Funny how history repeates iteslf, just as the FAT (File allocation Table) system struggled against the need for partitions greater than 4GB, and was superceded by NTFS; so the NTFS capacity of 16 TB is no longer enough, and ReFS in Windows Server 2012 will allow 16 EB (Exabytes) in a single file system

However, I cannot remember NTFS failing to support all the admitidly limited features of FAT. It’s an unwelcome sign of the times that backwards compatibility is no longer the holy grail, as a result ReFS will not support disk quotas and EFS encryption. Yet the most glaring omission in the ReFS specification is the ability to boot, closely followed by the fact that you cannot format removable media with ReFS.

I also hear that other features, which I have never used myself with NTFS will also be missing: named streams, object IDs, short names, compression, user data transactions, hard links and extended attributes. NTFS also offered the ability to convert file systems from FAT, sadly this won’t be provided for transitioning from NTFS to ReFS.

Summary of ReFS

ReFS is Microsoft’s brand new replacement for NTFS, the ‘Re’ stands for ‘Resiliant’ and ‘FS’ means file system.

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Microsoft Windows 8 Topics

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