Comparison of Linux filesystems

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Picking the right file-system can present some tough choices if your needs are specific. Here's an attempt to provide some insights into the various file-system's strengths and disadvantages.


Our article A quick guide to Linux filesystems from 2004 is still very popular for some strange reason - even though it is not very useful to compare ext2 and reiserfs when none of those have been widely used in a decade. Thus; here is a an attempt to provide slightly more updated information.

file-system description advantages problems
ext4 Solid file-system, default in most Linux distributions All-round good file-system Will by default reserve 5% of for root[1]
reiserfs Was popular among Gentoo users Very efficient for lots of small files Hans Reiser murdered his family and went to jail. No more updates the next decade.
xfs Solid file-system which has been around for 20+ years Very efficient for large drives storing mostly larger files. Can NOT be shrunk
zfs Really advanced feature-rich file-system for large amounts of disks. It's what you want if you have 10+ disks or more It's NOT in the Linux kernel. *BSD is a better choice for zfs severs. You'll have to cross over to the dark side. From Ubuntu 20.04 onward, ZFS can easily be set up to be /

This is a very controversial topic. Please feel free to share your opinion.


  1. This is not really a major problem, you can reduce it to 1% with tune2fs -m 1 /dev/device

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