[sf-lug] filesystem for a 3TB external USB drive

jim jim at systemateka.com
Tue Jan 3 10:05:21 PST 2012

    nice tho'ts, josh: thanks! 

    here's a wrinkle to the discussion in the form of a question: 

what is a filesystem? 

    i've occasionally presented the question to engineers and 
gurus and been surprised at the large proportion of answers 
that were disoriented and massively incomplete (e.g. "a 
filesystem has a root directory and subdirectories and files 
stored in those various directories" -- note that such an 
answer gives no clue as to the differences between filesystems). 

On Tue, 2012-01-03 at 05:43 -0800, Josh Greenland wrote:
> Sameer Verma wrote:
> > Any recommendations on a 3TB Western Digital external USB drive? Came
> > natively with a NTFS. Access will be via Linux only and will be used
> > for backup.
> >
> > cheers,
> > Sameer
> Sameer, I don't have any professional Linux experience, but I've been a 
> home user for years.  Here are some thoughts:
> I don't know why EXT2 has even been mentioned as a possibility.  Unlike 
> maybe just about all the other file systems people are talking about in 
> this thread, it's not a journaled file system, which I understand to 
> mean that it would be a lot more likely to be corrupted if it's shut 
> down in a bad way, for instance power is cut off before dismounting.  I 
> wouldn't even consider it.
> I've personally had trouble with JFS that I've had with no other file 
> system.  (I've used EXT2,3,4, XFS, JFS, ReiserFS, ZFS, a number of other 
> Unix ones, maybe a one or two Linux ones I'm not remembering, FAT, HPFS 
> and NTFS.)  JFS has lost whole directories on multiple occasions for no 
> good reason, and they were unrecoverable.  After some websearching I 
> found an article by two or three guys with impressive-looking 
> credentials comparing Linux file systems that said this was a known 
> problem with JFS.  Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find the 
> article again, but it might still be out there.
> All this was a few years ago, so things may have changed with JFS in the 
> meantime.  Still, my experience was unsettling enough that I've avoided 
> it since.
> EXT4 has been accepted as a stable, usable file system relatively 
> recently.  Before then, it wasn't considered totally trustworthy.  It's 
> newer than EXT3, which some conventional wisdom considers the gold 
> standard of Linux file system stability.  EXT3 is not considered to be a 
> speedy file system, but then who cares how fast reading or writing are 
> or how fast its fsck is if you are recovering years of precious data?
> As to ZFS:  accessing it through Linux is a hassle in my experience.  
> It's more complicated than using any of the Linux file systems I've 
> mentioned.  It seems to me you don't want to mess with something that's 
> unusually complicated and that has extra hassles attached to it if 
> you're in a recover situation.  But if you think its advantages make it 
> worth it, I suggest strongly that you get to basically understand ZFS.  
> It's its own little world.  You want to become comfortable with the 
> Linux software that accesses ZFS <<before>> you are in a recovery 
> situation.  But I dunno, the Linux software for ZFS seems kinda kludge-y 
> to me.   I suppose it's reliable, but it might be a factor to consider 
> in addition to ZFS's virtues when it's run in a purely Unix environment.
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