Microsoft starts protecting your data

Microsoft starts protecting your data

Summary: Apple's warming trend in the enterprise is about to get squashed: Microsoft's new ReFS file system - due in Windows 8 Server - will be the first major file system to fix data-destroying bugs in today's most popular OSs. Apple's much-patched and buggy HFS+ can't come close.


Sun's ZFS was the first 21st century file system (see ZFS: threat or menace? for a detailed overview) that focused on data integrity and operational simplicity. ReFS steals several pages from the ZFS playbook.

Don't get too excited though: like most major FS introductions, this one is server only, and won't, initially, support booting. Think of it as an extended beta that, after a year+ of baking, will come to the rest of us.

Combined with Windows 8 Storage Spaces, ReFS provides a strong foundation for the next 20 years of Windows data management.

What's in ReFS? According to a recent Microsoft blog post, ReFS stands for Resilient File System. It's an honest attempt to deal with NTFS's well-documented data integrity issues that Storage Bits discussed over 4 years ago.

Some key features:

  • Good compatibility with NTFS. The team sought to ensure that the most-used NTFS functionality was supported, but some capabilities - object IDs, compression, file level encryption and quotas among them - won't be.
  • Robust disk updates. Instead of updating metadata in place, ReFS writes updates to a different location atomically. Keeps metadata valid despite power failures or hardware issues.
  • Check-summed metadata. Detects all forms of disk corruption, including lost and misdirected writes and bit rot.
  • Scalable. ReFS uses highly-scalable B+ tree based on-disk structures to enable both very large files - 2^64-1 bytes - directories - 2^64 files - and volumes - 2^64 bytes.
  • Very long file names. Up to 32k characters.

There's much more, but we'll have to wait to see how Windows 8 Server acceptance shakes out before we'll know how soon desktop users will see them.

The desktop ReFS is designed to work with - if/when it is available - Windows 8 Storage Spaces. Even without ReFS, W8SS is pretty cool. But that's for another post.

The Storage Bits take I agree with my ZDNet colleagues that Windows 8 will be dead on arrival. There are just too many changes for the massive Windows app world to handle in a year or two. ReFS is one of those.

But whether intentionally or not, treating W8 as a foundational release - much as Apple treated Mac OS 10.6 Snow Leopard - is a smart move. Windows has been groaning under the weight of a too-strong committment to backwards compatibility - and the 1980's technology that entails.

NTFSs many problems make it a prime candidate for a deep renewal. My only concern is that 5 years from now the team - and us users - might be wishing they'd been more bold in dumping NTFS interfaces, not less.

But now is the time for Mac fans to take notice: ReFS and W8SS are fully competitive with where Apple could have been last year. Apple has punted on data integrity, and Mac users will suffer.

But it's not too late for Apple: they can break out $10 or $15 million (my guess) and buy Ten's Complement, founded by Apple's former tech lead for ZFS, which is offering ZFS for the Mac today. The shipping Silver version is feature lite - but so is the price - and more fully featured versions are on the way.

Perhaps even before ReFS ships on W8.

Comments welcome, of course. I bought a copy of Ten's Complement Zevo Silver, but have yet to put it throught its paces. Sadly I don't have any investment in the company.

Topics: Software, Apple, Hardware, Microsoft, Operating Systems, Windows

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  • This article has nothing to do with Apple

    and the point is irrelevant anyways, since any Apple client to the Windows 8 Server share will extract the same benefits.
    • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data

      What's wrong with encouraging competition between 2 industry leaders?
      R Harris
      • Nothing, in those cases where it is happening

        @R Harris However with XServe going the way of the dodo, there isn't competition here. A Mac or iPad's place in the enterprise environment is invariably as a client to Windows Server; in this case Apple OS clients will benefit in the same way as any other OS client will.

        That may change when ReFS becomes a client file system as well, but for the moment, all systems benefit from this change - including Macs.
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data

        @R Harris
        In this case, Apple isn't an industry leader. The title was dumb.
        Schoolboy Bob
    • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data

      Resilient? here we go... when microsoft uses words like that it generally means it will be the complete opposite.... windows XP is the most secure OS EVER! ooops pnp gaping hole and more....
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data

        @bspurloc When MS says their OS is the most (fill in the blank) server, they mean the most that THEY have ever produced. Unfortunately, their's is a very, very low bar to jump, and usually leaves them several stories short of the other OS's out there.
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data

        @bspurloc So true LOL.
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data


    • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data


      Apple isn't infiltrating my employer and won't be doing so anytime soon! let's not talk like Apple is an Enterprise force because that's a freaking joke! I don't allow kiddie toys on my network!
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data Apple doesn't make kiddie toys. The reason they don't make it to the enterprise: 1) They aren't really needed, they have Unix, Linux and Windows with more application offerings (Oracle, IBM, SQLServers). 2) No one wants hardware vendor lock-in. Apple makes good solid hardware and the OS is fine too. But Apple just isn't a rack mount company and probably never will be. In the server world you want beast not beauty.
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data Get back to us when you work for an actual Fortune 500 or Fortune 100 company. Those companies are either deploying or testing iPhones and iPads in their organizations.
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data Well, the company I work for is allowing executives from the Director/District Manager level and above to get an iPad. We are also allowing anyone who is assigned a BlackBerry to choose an iPhone instead. So I guess they are infiltrating our enterprise. Am I worried about it: absolutely not. Competition just pushes MS to make their products even better.
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data Sounds like you are worried about your future relevance?
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data<br><br>Put down the Microsoft flavored kool-aid dude, you're starting to sound religious (or something)!
      • I don't allow kiddie toys on my network until...
        the CEO of your company comes in one day with an iPad or iPhone under his/her arm and commands you to let him use these toys on "your" network.
      • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data Well said sir. I could not even imagine a scenario where I would want Mac OS in a server environment, could you imagine the installation process, who's credit card details would you use, how many apps would you need to install and why the hell has it installed iTunes lol. <br><br> To be honest I don't understand why anyone would use Windows or Apple OS for a server, linux has by far and away the best overall qualities you need for servers and is happy to play with everyone.<br><br>PS. All those that follow this post have lost their minds if they think Apple is a good idea for enterprise. Apple has no security to mention and have a very low expectations of their clients, if you are a serious business person you would use Blackberry not Apple. I have neither as I have no need to be annoyed by people when I am working (I am never far away from a PC so I use email/IRC). Honestly why would anyone want a company that is only interested in profit and not in the security of your data. They own the products you buy and will not play nice with other OS. Apple in the enterprise is the start of a rotting core.<br><br> Flame away Kool Aiders. Whatever you say with be bs, apple is abysmal in so many ways and not secure enough to send your Gran's famous BBQ sauce mind your companies latest and greatest secret product. I would laugh my arse off if I was asked to install Mac OS on a server, just before I left the company.
  • Quick question:

    What file system does iOS use?
  • Quite the backhanded compliment there

    I was surprised while I was reading all the "nice" things you had to say about ReFS. I was wondering where the real Robin Harris had gone. Then came time for you to slam Windows 8 and for you to hope and pray that Apple gets ZFS out before Microsoft gets ReFS out and I realized you weren't gone.

    As rbethell stated, this topic had nothing at all to do with Apple. Too bad you had to ruin an otherwise nice blog topic.
    • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data

      @toddybottom_z <br>You are right! And he is about as subtle as a cat on a hot tin roof--not the movie either!! LOL!
    • RE: Microsoft starts protecting your data

      @toddybottom_z I think he was hoping the resulting fan-boy reaction would get him more hits.