Comparing the ext3, ext4, XFS, and Btrfs filesystems

File It

Article from Issue 165/2014

Every Linux computer needs a filesystem, and users often choose a filesystem by habit or by default. But, if you're seeking stability, versatility, or a small performance advantage, it pays to take a closer look.

Most people would rather remember names than numbers. Computer filesystems evolved as a means for computers to interface with the idiosyncrasies of human memory. A filesystem deals with names, which are easier to recall than the underlying inode numbers the system uses to identify chunks of stored data.

Furthermore, a filesystem allows the user to attach special attributes to the file. Filesystems identify the file owner, for instance, the access rights, or the time of the last modification – regardless of whether the storage medium is a network device, a hard disk, or flash disk. A filesystem also hides all the physical properties and conditions of the media.

Put more generally, a filesystem creates an abstraction layer, which allows all layers above (e.g.,, applications) to work with names while the layers below (e.g., device drivers) work with physical addresses like inodes or block/sector numbers.


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