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Can I get a status update on the Resilient File System?

Brien Posey explains the benefits of the Resilient File System and examines the reasons why it has remained relatively unused.

When Microsoft created Windows Server 2012, it introduced hundreds of new features. While most of them were praised as being innovative or meeting next-generation needs, the Resilient File System has remained largely unused.

The main reason why few organizations use the Resilient File System (ReFS) in production environments is that it simply did not meet people's expectations. The general assumption is that new features will introduce new capabilities, but ReFS did the opposite. There are a number of NT file system (NTFS) features that are unsupported. For example, ReFS does not support file system compression or encryption. The use of quotas, extended attributes and deduplication are not supported either. In fact, Windows Server can't even boot from a ReFS volume.

Given these limitations, it is easy to see why some people believe ReFS never had a chance of being widely adopted for production use. In my opinion, doing a feature-by-feature comparison between NTFS and ReFS misses the point of what ReFS is all about.

Even though it didn't start out that way, NTFS is a general-purpose file system. Windows servers can safely use NTFS on just about any volume. It is a tried-and-true file system that offers a wide variety of features and capabilities. ReFS is not.

The Resilient File System was designed for one thing and one thing only -- data integrity. Because its job is to protect data integrity, ReFS probably isn't the best choice for a volume containing system files or virtual machines. It might not even be the best choice for use on a file server since there is no support for deduplication, encryption or compression. However, ReFS probably is a good choice for volumes hosting databases. Keep in mind that SQL Server 2014 is the only version of SQL Server that is officially supported for use on ReFS.

Personally, I think it is too soon to completely write off ReFS. There is always a chance Microsoft could end up making the file system more feature rich in the next version of Windows.

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