EXT3 vs EXT4 vs XFS vs BTRFS linux filesystems benchmark

Written by Gionatan Danti on . Posted in Linux & Unix

User Rating:  / 129

Real world scenario: untar and cat

Its time for some more pedestrian tests now. For example, what is the fastest filesystem when untarring the vanilla Linux kernel 2.6.36? [2]

Linux kernel untar time

Don't be fooled by XFS low CPU usage, as it is the slower FS by a very great amount. All things considered, the best FS seems EXT4: its speed is on par with EXT3 and BTRFS, while using lower less CPU time. However, apart XFS, all FS performs about the same.

However, this test is surely influenced by features as caching and deferred allocation. What happens when we issue a final sync?

Linux kernel untar time - final sync()

We can see that XFS continue to be the slower FS, with EXT3 also performing slower than EXT4 and BTRFS, which is the fastest FS by a very small margin.

What about catting all the extracted files?

Linux kernel cat time

In this read-bound test, EXT3 and EXT4 show not so good results. In contrast XFS and especially BTRFS are way faster. However, the latter has a quite high CPU load, so XFS can be preferable here. Note the somewhat higher BTRFS's system CPU time: it contribute to prove that this filesystem has a quite complex metadata scheme.

UPDATE: preparing the system for another benchmark, I noticed that, in contrast to what written in Fedora 14 documentation, write barriers were non enabled on EXT3 filesystem. Please read the updated "Conclusions" page.


#1 Max 2012-08-26 15:49
Thank you for this very interesting article. I'll go with ext3, mostly because of your verdict for it being a good and balanced filesystem.
#2 Gionatan Danti 2012-08-26 16:11
Hi Max,
I'm happy that you found my article interesting.

However please note that, as you can read in the updates, EXT3 was incorrectly benchmarked with write barrier off, while all other filesystems used barrier on.

This means that EXT3 data were somewhat flawed. For up-to-date data, please read my latest article here: http://www.ilsistemista.net/index.php/linux-a-unix/33-btrfs-vs-ext3-vs-ext4-vs-xfs-performance-on-fedora-17.html

#3 Kuba 2012-10-09 15:01
Hi Gionatan,

Could you please let me know what sysbench parameter you have used to perform these tests?

#4 http:// 2014-03-08 09:57
I believe what you published was very reasonable. But,
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title? I mean, I don't want to tell you how to run your website, however suppose you added something to possibly get people's attention?
I mean EXT3 vs EXT4 vs XFS vs BTRFS linux filesystems benchmark is a little vanilla.

You ought to glance at Yahoo's home page and see how they write
article headlines to get people to open the links.

You might add a video or a pic or two to get readers excited about everything've got to say.
Just my opinion, it could bring your website a little bit more interesting.

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