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ReFS: The Next Generation File System for Windows

Triggered by the last 2 podcasts of John Siracusa1, the last few days I’ve read quite a bit about ZFS and Microsoft’s new file system ReFS. The article I’m linking to contains quite a few interesting bits about ReFS, but the following parts caught my attention:

  1. ReFS is not a log structured file system due to torn writes:

    One of the approaches we considered and rejected was to implement a log structured file system. This approach is unsuitable for the type of general-purpose file system required by Windows. NTFS relies on a journal of transactions to ensure consistency on the disk. That approach updates metadata in-place on the disk and uses a journal on the side to keep track of changes that can be rolled back on errors and during recovery from a power loss. One of the benefits of this approach is that it maintains the metadata layout in place, which can be advantageous for read performance. The main disadvantages of a journaling system are that writes can get randomized and, more importantly, the act of updating the disk can corrupt previously written metadata if power is lost at the time of the write, a problem commonly known as torn write.

  2. ReFS is using B+ trees instead:

    On-disk structures and their manipulation are handled by the on-disk storage engine. This exposes a generic key-value interface, which the layer above leverages to implement files, directories, etc. For its own implementation, the storage engine uses B+ trees exclusively. In fact, we utilize B+ trees as the single common on-disk structure to represent all information on the disk. Trees can be embedded within other trees (a child tree’s root is stored within the row of a parent tree). On the disk, trees can be very large and multi-level or really compact with just a few keys and embedded in another structure. This ensures extreme scalability up and down for all aspects of the file system. Having a single structure significantly simplifies the system and reduces code. The new engine interface includes the notion of “tables” that are enumerable sets of key-value pairs. Most tables have a unique ID (called the object ID) by which they can be referenced. A special object table indexes all such tables in the system.

Even if you are not a file systems expert, this is an interesting read.


  1. Podcasts were a pleasant companion while being sick. 

Original title and link: ReFS: The Next Generation File System for Windows (NoSQL database©myNoSQL)

via: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/b8/archive/2012/01/16/building-the-next-generation-file-system-for-windows-refs.aspx