Software giant Microsoft is all set to launch an all new file system, ReFS with its next operating system Windows 8, in late 2012. ReFS stands for Resilient File System, and has been designed to meet Windows storage needs – having shared storage pools across systems, ability to large volumes and a resilience to corruption. The current file system on Windows, the NTFS or New Technology File System has been in place since Windows NT 3.1 in 1993.
ReFS however, will only be available in Windows Server 8 and Microsoft plans a full test before making it available to Windows 8 client users. Surendra Verma, a member of Microsoft’s Storage and File System team says, “... Windows file systems are accessed by the widest array of application and system software anywhere. ReFS takes that learning and builds on it. We didn’t start from scratch, but reimagined it where it made sense and built on the right parts of NTFS where that made sense. Above all, we are delivering this in a pragmatic manner consistent with the delivery of a major file system—something only Microsoft has done at this scale." Although the new file system has been “designed from the ground up”, Verma does state that the older file code has been used to implement the Windows file system semantics.
Microsoft plans to bring out ReFS in different stages to Windows 8 users – as a storage system for Windows server, as storage for clients and then as a boot volume. A similar approach has been used for previous file systems as well. Storage Spaces and ReFS have been designed such that they are in fact compatible with each other, since Storage Spaces allows users to recover from a crash faster than before.
This compatibility will only make the Windows system more efficient in terms of storage. It would detect disk corruptions faster, enable data striping and also include the copy-on-write model. Microsoft has used COW in SQL servers products and Volume Shadow Copy Service previously.
The only drawbacks of ReFS would be that it cannot be used on removable media, or to boot an operating system. It is strictly for storage as of now. Windows 8 clients would be able to use it only once it is fully supported in client operating systems.