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ReFS debuts with Windows Server 8

ReFS, a new file system that Microsoft calls “the foundation of storage on Windows for the next decade or more,” will be coming to Windows Server 8, the company said this week.

According to a Building Windows blog post penned by Surendra Verma, a development manager with Microsoft’s storage and file system team, ReFS (Resilient File System) is built on the foundation of NTFS and maintains a high level of compatibility with it.

ReFS is built for scale and consistent uptime. Verma wrote that the goal with ReFS is to “never take the file system offline. Assume that in the event of corruptions, it is advantageous to isolate the fault while allowing access to the rest of the volume. This is done while salvaging the maximum amount of data possible, all done live.”

But a big part of ReFS is that it also works with the new Storage Spaces system; in fact, the two were developed at the same time.

Storage Spaces, detailed in another Building Windows 8 blog post, is designed to create a pool of different storage devices (hardware and virtual) and ensure protection of the data on that system, similar to a RAID array.

According to the post, ReFS also combats “bit rot” — when accessed bits of a file system become corrupt over time — through disk scrubbing tasks that read and validate data.

While Microsoft says it will be production-ready by the time Windows 8 ships, it will only be available to use on Windows Server 8 right out of the gate. Even then, ReFS won’t be able to be used as a boot disk; instead, Microsoft says it will adopt a “conservative” approach and start with ReFS as a storage space-only option. After that, it will roll out to clients for use as a storage space and finally becoming a boot option.

There are additional caveats; ReFS isn’t supported on removable media and NTFS data can’t be converted to ReFS data. Plus, ReFS doesn’t natively offer deduplication, but Microsoft reassured users that third-party dedupe software would continue to work as normal.

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