ReFS, Microsoft's next generation file system revealed

By Lee Kaelin on January 17, 2012, 10:30 AM

Microsoft detailed its long awaited and arguably well overdue NTFS replacement yesterday, the Resilient File System (ReFS), on the Building Windows 8 blog. It marks the first time the Redmond-based software giant has revealed the specifics of its next-gen file system in full.

The company claims ReFS has been built from the ground up, to meet the demands of the storage requirements needed by Windows users. It offers the ability to handle large storage volumes, enhanced resiliency to corruption and shared storage pools across multiple machines.

"ReFS inherits the features and semantics from NTFS including BitLocker encryption, access-control lists for security, USN journal, change notifications, symbolic links, junction points, mount points, reparse points, volume snapshots, file IDs, and oplocks," Surendra Verma, the development manager for the Storage and File System team wrote.

It will only be available for Windows Server 8 products initially, with Microsoft stating it plans to fully test the file system before offering it on other Windows 8 products in the future. So despite the advantages it offers, those adopting Windows 8 from the outset will have to remain with the very outdated NTFS file system.

Also, in its current state ReFS cannot be used for removable media, or for any partition used to boot Windows – it is purely a file system solution for data storage right now. Windows 8 clients will be able to access and read ReFS partitions from launch though.

Essentially it just plugs into the existing NTFS storage stack and has been built upon the foundations of its predecessor, in order to maintain compatibility. Its main benefits include being able to detect and automatically correct storage corruption whilst keeping the disk online during repairs, and data striping support similar to RAID solutions without the added complexity that would normally create for users.

ReFS will also incorporate Microsoft’s write model, Copy-on-Write (COW), which the firm has used with great success in its SQL server products and Volume Shadow Copy Service that enables users to make quick snapshots of large datasets.

Full details as well as detailed FAQ information can be read on the MSDN building Windows 8 blog.




User Comments: 16

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Jesse Jesse said:

Which is it?

"The company claims ReFS has been built from the ground up, "

"...has been built upon the foundations of its predecessor, "

Mizzou Mizzou said:

Looks like it's only being deployed server side so really doesn't have any impact on the client initially.

Guest said:

"It will only be available for Windows Server 8 products initially, with Microsoft stating it plans to fully test the file system before offering it on other Windows 8 products in the future."

So Microsoft is releasing it on Enterprise products without fully testing it?

TJGeezer said:

prismatics said:

Which is it?

"The company claims ReFS has been built from the ground up, "

"...has been built upon the foundations of its predecessor, "

It's an architectural metaphor writ in marketspeak. What, you want meaning, too?

MrTomTom said:

TJGeezer said:

prismatics said:

Which is it?

"The company claims ReFS has been built from the ground up, "

"...has been built upon the foundations of its predecessor, "

It's an architectural metaphor writ in marketspeak. What, you want meaning, too?

Meaning "The company claims ReFS has been built from the ground up [...] upon the foundations of its predecessor (NTFS), in order to maintain compatibility."

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

"The company claims ReFS has been built from the ground up, "

to a developer, this means no prior code was taken from any other project; aka all new code (and thus needs total regression testing)

"...has been built upon the foundations of its predecessor, "
meaning the interfaces of the predecessor(ntfs) and some concepts are common,

  • inherits the features and semantics from NTFS including BitLocker encryption,
  • access-control lists for security,
  • USN journal,
  • change notifications,
  • symbolic links,
  • junction points, mount points, reparse points,
  • volume snapshots, file IDs, and oplocks

but the new development prunes code size and implements the new features not in common

benefits include

  • being able to detect and automatically correct storage corruption whilst keeping the disk online during repairs,
  • data striping support similar to RAID solutions without the added complexity that would normally create for users.
  • Copy-on-Write (COW)

despite the advantages it offers, those adopting Windows 8 from the outset will have to remain with the very outdated NTFS file system.

Also, in its current state ReFS cannot be used for removable media, or for any partition used to boot Windows - it is purely a file system solution for data storage right now. Windows 8 clients will be able to access and read ReFS partitions from launch though.

Guest said:

There's no need to write new code for redundant or faultless NTFS routines, so that's why it would be built up on a workable foundation but Kernals I assume would be the "ground up" approach in writing the full OS code. NTFS dates back to NT before XP in 2001

Guest said:

Windows 8 will open up a new (exclusive to the max) box, early reviews/leaks about its restrictive nature far outshadow any desire I ever had to move to a 64-bit only Internet world where less is compatible with the hardware & software I have relied on for decades. Redmond is making a computer to run MS-ware period, e.g Outlook Express, a great e-mail client freeware, W-7 mandates if I want to buy into MS Outlook I pay $120 for a more complicated GUI where macros do for me what I don't want them doing, or Live Mail is free, and a joke in coding web-mail blunder. I can't think of one single positive aspect of paying more for less and dancing to a Miscro$oft monoply. When (very fragile) W-7 runs its lifespan out I will be moving to Linux or Mac.

Guest said:

"very outdated NTFS" - excuse me, but how is it outdated? And furthermore, "VERY" outdated? This got me so worried, because I use it for years in blissful ignorance of its outdatedness! Oh dear! Does it mean that my files will start to crumble and rot any minute now? Or it's past its "best before" date and got fungus colony growing in it? An outdated file system is such a mark on my reputation. I've got a respectable household here, and will not stand for anything outdated! I will write a check immediately to purchase the BlablaFS that was just rewritten from scratch to replicate the existing NTFS functionality (with bugs added for free), just so no "very outdated" things are in my computer, no sir! Who's the last one in the line? Whom do I give money to, please?

Seriously, this marketing stuff makes me sick. No comparison to competing file systems (Unix, Mac), no speed benchmarks, just the same old tricks: praise the new with meaningless abbreviations and smear the old with negatively associated keywords. "Product 2.0 has HBGD+, and Product 1.0 is gay". And each small update with some narrow specific features is "next generation". Just because it's in green color.

Guest said:

A foundation is under the ground. duh

Night Hacker Night Hacker said:

You took the words out of my mouth. I was thinking the same thing. Since when is 2001 "very outdated"? I haven't had problems with NTFS, heck, I didn't have problems with the one before that. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

As for the 64bit world of incompatibility, welcome to the world of computers. Software gets old, to expect it to always be supported is just plain ignorant.

Guest said:

So Microsoft is releasing it on Enterprise products without fully testing it?

No - this thing has been in development for too long already - it's actually more about "product placement" - the server market is much more interested in new file systems and what they can offer - ReFS is certainly much more relevant to file servers than to desktop users - which is probably why you don't see the point.

The desktop user for the most part doesn't know or doesn't care what file system is in use. There are arguably better file systems available but to those saddled with Windows they have no choice except a MS proprietary file system.

Seriously, this marketing stuff makes me sick. No comparison to competing file systems (Unix, Mac), no speed benchmarks, just the same old tricks: praise the new with meaningless abbreviations and smear the old with negatively associated keywords. "Product 2.0 has HBGD+, and Product 1.0 is gay". And each small update with some narrow specific features is "next generation". Just because it's in green color.

Exactly - it's marketing and it's Microsoft...

You took the words out of my mouth. I was thinking the same thing. Since when is 2001 "very outdated"? I haven't had problems with NTFS, heck, I didn't have problems with the one before that. If it isn't broke, don't fix it.

NTFS has been around since quite a while before 2001 - it first appeared in 1993 in fact... :)

The "one before that" was FAT16/FAT32, etc. With FAT and NTFS there was a similar situation as you now see emerging with NTFS and ReFS. FAT became the standard for the MS desktop, "home user", market, whereas NTFS was exclusive to corporate servers/workstations - as NTFS once was to Windows NT.

As for the 64bit world of incompatibility, welcome to the world of computers. Software gets old, to expect it to always be supported is just plain ignorant.

Which seems to contradict your first paragraph...? :)

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

We've had 64bit filesystems for a LONG time (NTFS is 64bit), but our systems are

now classified as 64fit systems refering to 64bit memory addressing.

NTFS is both modern, robust, stable and desireable.

The ReFS being discussed is a SERVER (not a home user) option and is further restricted to DATA, not to be used for the boot drive.

Guest said:

Check the features that Ext4 and HFS+ have and then dare to mate untrue statements!

jobeard jobeard, TS Ambassador, said:

Check the features that Ext4 and HFS+ have and then dare to mate untrue statements!
True, BUT

  • Ext4 is Linux based
  • HFS+ is Mac based

and Windows PC users can't run either as the booted file system

Guest said:

The point is NTFS offers far less features than EXT4 and thus it is outdated. Soon Btrfs will take over EXT4 as the default file system on Linux and then NTFS will be even more outdated.

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