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ReFS – The new Windows 8 file system

refs windows 2012 server

ReFS (Resilient File System) - NTFS is dead, long live the ReFS

Well, not exactly that NTFS is dead, but … From the middle of the 1993rd years to the present day all Microsoft operating systems their reliability and robustness were based on NTFS (NT File System), which has some of its features borrowed from the now extinct IBM and HPFS (High Performance File System), which is supposed to be the basis of the operating system OS / 2. The current version of the NTFS file system 3.1 and is used by Windows XP to date, which often leads to confusion because the current version of the driver NTFS.Sys 5.0 and Microsoft it locates most of the new functionality.


NTFS supports a number of features such as NTFS Log, USN Journal, Alternate Date Streams (ADS), compression and file encryption, quotas, etc. Microsoft’s 2003r announced the release of a new file system called WinFS (Windows Future Storage), which should be based on relational databases. However, because of the problems mentioned in the subtitle of this project never saw the light of day a production. ReFS (Resilient File System), which appeared under the codename Protagon, will turn – as things stand – fully implemented in the upcoming version of the operating system codenamed Windows 8.

What’s new in ReFS?

Only the name of the new file system comes from the word Resilient, which means resistant. Although it is not the only new feature of this system, Microsoft has decided to put the name as best describing the benefits that it brings. To store data, the system only uses B + trees by which shows all the data on the disk. Since trees can be part of another tree, and they can be very large or multiple levels, is hereby achieved maximum scalability filesystem. Using advanced algorithms for all metadata stored in the refs-to generate summaries which are then saved to another location on the disk, which provide resistance data on possible damage of the media, and thus increase their availability. Although the ReFS can be implemented directly on disks, works best when used in combination with another new technology, and that’s Storage Spaces.



Storage Spaces is nothing but combining multiple physical drives, of any size or type of connection (USB, FireWire, etc.) into a single logical unit, which if necessary can be redundant itself (mirror, mirroring data). Storage Spaces is currently only available in Windows 8, but it will also appear on Windows 7 clients. Refs will appear in the server version of the operating system once it comes out of beta phase, and a client version will come out later. ReFS kept compatibility with the NTFS file system, but some features will not be supported – for example, short names, compression, EFS, quotas and the like. External storage devices can not be used nor the refs on it may contain boot operating system files. Boot from ReFS disks will be possible in some of the next version or as part of a repair patch. Likewise, there is no tool to convert NTFS file system in refs, but recommended data migration. Older operating systems, including Windows 7, will be able to directly access the drives formatted as refs, but they will normally be able to read and write when they are accessed over the network (SMB or NFS protocol). Refs kept and security attributes of NTFS file system such as Access Control Lists.

What message does ReFS send?

ReFS definitely has a future and will eventually replace NTFS, although it will not happen very soon. For now, its best application in the file centers that handle large volumes of files and directories, and where necessary to achieve maximum resistance data on the various disasters that can happen to us with minimal cost. In combination with other options such as Storage Spaces ReFS will become unavoidable in small and medium-sized businesses that can not afford or simply do not need complicated storage solution such as a SAN. It remains to be seen how users will accept the refs and in what will be intervals appear able missing – Boot from ReFS volume and support for the refs on the client version of Windows 8.