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Microsoft Introduces ReFS for Windows 8 Server

For those who are following the developments of Microsoft Windows 8, another feature has been introduced:  the Resilient File System (ReFS).

According to Microsoft, despite being server only, clients will be able to access ReFS stored data. The new system has an NTFS base with new architecture and engineering that will accommodate 21st century “storage technologies and scenarios.”

The NTFS semantics and features that ReFS won’t support are named streams, object IDs, short names, compression, file level encryption (EFS), user data transactions, sparse, hard-links, extended attributes and quotas.

Although ReFS and Storage Spaces can run independently of each other, Microsoft expects a lot of customers to use them in conjunction with each other. When customers use ReFS in conjunction with mirrored Storage Spaces, corruptions will be fixed automatically and transparently. Microsoft has also devised a way to deal with “bit rot,” which happens when parts of the disk develop corruptions over time that tend to go undetected because those parts aren’t often read.

“In order to deal with bit rot, we have added a system task that periodically scrubs all metadata and Integrity Stream data on an ReFS volume residing on a mirrored Storage Space,” said Surendra Verma, a Microsoft development manager on the storage and file system team. “Scrubbing involves reading all the redundant copies and validating their correctness using the ReFS checksums. If checksums mismatch, bad copies are fixed using good ones.”

Microsoft has several goals it hopes to achieve with ReFS such as verify and auto-correct data, optimize for extreme scale and never take the file system offline.

It may be more than a year before ReFS is ready to be used by the average consumer. In the meantime, anyone who is interested in learning more about it can do so on Microsoft’s MSDN blog.

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