EXT3 vs EXT4 vs XFS vs BTRFS filesystem comparison on Fedora 18

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Linux & Unix

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As always, we want to check the current state and performance of Linux filesystems. This time is the turn of Fedora 18 x86_64, with kernel version 3.9.4-200.

The benchmarked filesystems are:

  • ext3, the classic Linux filesystem
  • ext4, the latest of the ext-based filesystem and the default choice for many Linux distribution
  • xfs, an high performance filesystem designed with scalability in mind
  • btrfs, the new, actively developed, feature-rich filesystem

Note that this article has a focus on performance. For an in-depth, feature-based comparison, you can see the relative Wikipedia page.

Remember that different usage patterns can favor different filesystems, so I don't pretend to elect the best, stronger filesystem on earth. I simply want to help you in the choice of a good filesystem for your workload.

Comments   

 
#1 Jan 2013-06-27 15:42
Thanks for the test. It seems, as if btrfs is a bit Janus-faced: sometimes very fast, sometimes very slow.

It would be very interesting for future tests, how ZFS on Linux performs. Especially, after it has become "productive" some weeks ago.
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#2 Gionatan Danti 2013-06-27 16:12
Hi Jan,
this is surely a good idea ;)

I will investigate this possibility for the next review.

Regards.
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#3 Altr 2013-12-21 10:49
Thank you for the benchmarks!
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#4 Iván Baldo 2014-04-14 03:12
For databases or virtual machine images, you should disable the copy-on-write semantics of BTRFS.
You don't need to set the entire filesystem to be non COW, only the directory and files that need it (chattr -C flag).
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#5 Gionatan Danti 2014-04-14 09:39
Quoting Iván Baldo:
For databases or virtual machine images, you should disable the copy-on-write semantics of BTRFS.
You don't need to set the entire filesystem to be non COW, only the directory and files that need it (chattr -C flag).


Hi Ivan,
you are right. Anyway, I benchmarked BTRFS even with disabled CoW and found that, for virtual machines at least, it performs noticeably worse than a traditional filesystem as EXT4.

You can read more here:
http://www.ilsistemista.net/index.php/linux-a-unix/36-btrfs-mount-options-and-virtual-machines-an-in-depth-look.html

The only catch is that both tests are somewhat old now, being performed on Fedora 17 and 18. I should really see if with newer kernels BTRFS performances are better now.

But I have so little time ;)
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#6 Dan 2015-10-09 06:37
It's two years later, but this post still comes up tops on a search and the conclusions is outdated. Critical data requires historical snapshots AND backups (preferably backups of the historical snapshots). Big critical data requires applications that are well written to do atomic transactions leaving the disk always consistent (assuming the fs supports it) and then requires atomic backups leaving the backups consistent. This simply is NOT achievable (ie impossible) with ext3 or ext4. Adding some small extra stability risks to the many risks that already exist is a small price to pay for proper protection from those risks. NTFS has had shadowcopies for ages by the way. Actually building a backup scheme to leverage these tools in a smart way isn't so simple, but it's worth doing.
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