Windows Server 8 Replaces NTFS File System with ReFS

Dave Courbanou

January 20, 2012

2 Min Read
Windows Server 8 Replaces NTFS File System with ReFS

The upcoming Windows Server 8 (like Windows Phone 7, with the number at the end) will include a new file system, ReFS, short for Resilient File System. IT admins, VARs and anyone running a server should probably check out the latest details for Microsoft’s file system. Read on for more information about the new perks …

On the Building Windows 8 blog, Microsoft has published a veritable tome of all the ins and outs of ReFS, but there are a few things you really need to know:

  • File Integrity and Safety: ReFS is designed to make data corruption a thing of the past, with metadata integrity checksums for both copying data and moving data around. ReFS also works nicely with the mirroring technology in the new Windows Storage Spaces, which makes data especially secure since ReFS can automatically salvage lost or potentially corrupted data across pooled volumes so other data isn’t ruined. Existing data is maintained with ReFS and regular “scrubbing” occurs so “bit rot” is a thing of a past — no longer will IT admins have to use CHKDSK constantly. Users also can employ Bitlocker encryption, along with plenty other normal NTSF (Microsoft’s current standard file system) activities.

  • Large volume support: Host a singular drive up to a yobibyte and files up to 16 exabytes. That’s pretty future-proof. Virtualized storage pooling and symbolic linking support also make it easy to manage large file sizes and move them around. According to Microsoft, ReFS will be exceptionally good at streaming data to users because of its ease in striping data across multiple drives.

  • Compatibility: Windows 8 clients can access ReFS filesystems as they normally would, but currently, you cannot use them natively inside the Windows 8 client. This is likely because ReFS doesn’t support booting yet, which also means your Windows Server 8 system cannot be all ReFS. In addition, you cannot currently convert your NTFS volume to ReFS (like you could with FAT32 to NTFS), so your best bet is to start fresh and/or copy data over.

Microsoft admits ReFS not brand new, but rather a complete reworking of NTSF. If that concerns you, check out the full blog here. Wikipedia also has a nice little summary, too. The bottom line is short and sweet: VARs and IT admins should gear up for the future of file-system compatibility.

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