Microsoft is switching to the Resilient File System for Windows 8, but only the server edition will support the new and more robust file system.
ReFS is built on the foundation of the current and almost 20-year-old NTFS file system. But it's been designed from the ground floor to offer several advantages, particularly for servers.
As described in the latest Building Windows 8 blog by Surendra Verma, a development manager on Microsoft's Storage and File System team, ReFS will be unveiled and phased in as part of Windows Server 8, so IT administrators will be able to give it a spin by the end of the year.
Since ReFS uses a subset of features from NTFS, it's designed to maintain backward compatibility with its older counterpart. So Windows 8 clients will be able to read and write to ReFS hard-drive partitions and shares on a server, just as they can now do with those running NTFS. But as implied in its name, the new file system offers greater resiliency, meaning better data verification, error correction, and scalability.
Beyond its greater resiliency, ReFS will also surpass NTFS by offering larger maximum sizes for individual files, directories, disk volumes, and other items, as seen in the table below:
Trying to address concerns among server administrators, Verma said Microsoft has conducted tens of thousands of tests of the new file system to ensure that it's reliable and that it performs as expected. However, the company is still cautioning IT departments to tread slowly and carefully in deploying ReFS and to adopt their own internal testing before deployment.
Microsoft is also ramping up ReFS in a step-by-step manner.
"We will implement ReFS in a staged evolution of the feature: first as a storage system for Windows Server, then as storage for clients, and then ultimately as a boot volume," Verma explained. "This is the same approach we have used with new file systems in the past. Initially, our primary test focus will be running ReFS as a file server. We expect customers to benefit from using it as a file server, especially on a mirrored Storage Space. We also plan to work with our storage partners to integrate it with their storage solutions."