Why is Nobody Using ReFS?

Why is Nobody Using ReFS?

You might have stumled upon „ReFS“, probably in the context of file systems – but what is ReFS? Read on to learn more.

(source: http://www.joshodgers.com/2016/07/10/storage-performance-refs-vs-ntfs/)

What is ReFS

Microsoft introduced the proprietary file system ReFS (short for Resilient File System) with Windows Server 2012. According to Microsoft, they created ReFS (codenamed Protogon) to meet storage requirements of Windows users. ReFS is able to handle very large storage volumes while supplying maximum data integrity. It supports a maximum volume size of one yoyibyte, a single file can weigh up to 16 exibytes.

NTFS (short for New Technology File System), the default system of the Windows NT family, hails back to Windows NT 3.1, ReFS was meant to replace the old system. But why is nobody using ReFS?

New in ReFS

ReFS was created to match the changes in data storage requirement. Among its main features are:

  • automatic integrity checks
  • data scrubbing
  • protection from data degradation
  • built-in redundancy
  • integrated RAID functionality
  • sturage virtualization and storage pooling (independent of the physical drives)

Although the self-healing powers of ReFS are an appreciated feature and speed test showed that early versions of ReFS were at least similar to NTFS, the system took years to catch on.

As of now, administrators deploy ReFS in specific situations such as storing very large data sets.

ReFS Problems

If integrity checking, one of the key features of ReFS, was activated, ReFS lost speed and performed far worse than its predecessor. Even the new version released in 2016 has yet to reach the performance levels of NTFS.

Windows cannot boot from a ReFS disk. Several NTFS features (such as NTFS compression, hard links, and disk quotas) are not available. Also, ReFS does not offer data deduplication.

ReFS was designed to never fail – whicht meant that if failure occurred, the system provided no tools to repair the damage. However, even testers claimed that they had to try really hard to trigger critical failures.

While support for Alternate Data Streams was added later on, this did not help to further the spread of ReFS.

Which One Shall I Use?

The Answer is: It depends. If you require any NTFS features, stick with the current standard. On the other hand, if you can live with its limitations (and don’t need to run Windows), ReFS offers a near-unbeatable stability.

If you set up a storage cluster, ReFS 2016 is the only system that will grant access to all features. If used for virtualized deployments with Windows Server 2016, ReFS 2016 offers powerful features like accelerated VHDX operations such as fixed VHD(X) creation, VHD(X) checkpoint merge, and dynamic VHD(X) growth.

Lean more

You’ll find additional sources for more in-depth research here:

Redmond Magazine


Josh Odgers