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Which Filesystem: EXT3 vs. XFS vs. ZFS?

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Occasional Visitor
I just purchased a Thecus N5500 NAS which I will be loading with 5 1.5TB Seagate HD's. Before I build the filesystem, I would appreciate any thoughts/guidance on which is the "best" type to use. The NAS supports Ext3, XFS, and ZFS. Any insights into the pro's/con's of each, what people have had success with, etc is appreciated.

I will use it for home use (central depository for photos, home video, media streaming, etc). I plan to run the unit in RAID5 configuration and most of the available drive space will be used (I have a lot of video stored).

Thanks in advance.


Occasional Visitor
Also, on a separate topic, the NAS also supports Link Aggregation. Any thoughts on whether I would gain any significant benefits from utilizing this feature? Thanks again.


Regular Contributor
JFS would be my choice for a large file system, as it's really quick on recovering from crashes, on top of search fir files in very large directories and load times.

I think JFS has a max size of 4 PB as well, giving it more room than one person can possibly EVER need..


Very Senior Member
I would give some consideration to recovery in an emergency. EXT3 RAID 5 can be mounted using a Linux Live CD (assuming the disks are good). Data can be read and recovered in the event the NAS electronics go bad.

XFS is the old SGI file system dating back to the early 1990's.

ZFS is a more recent file system created by Sun. Not sure this is easily mountable on a conventional PC for data recovery.

That said, never rely on the RAID to replace the need to backup. Backing up data is critical as power surges, water, fire, theft, etc. can cause your RAID 5 to be unrecoverable.

I would recommend you stick with EXT3.

Check wikipedia to learn more about file systems.


New Around Here

I would recommend ZFS. It is from SUN and is an enterprise-level filesystem. You can have RAIDZ which is essentially RAID 5, plus snapshots, plus sharing over iSCSI, NFS and CIFS. You can also add drives of different sizes to grow the NAS later. You can details at http://bitsforbytes.blogspot.com/


Occasional Visitor
Thanks for the replies everyone. I really appreciate everybody's help here. Great site for learning.

For better or worse, I wound up going with EXT3. I am not sure if I ultimately had a great reason for doing so vs. the other options other than it seemed like a good overall filesystem with no major disadvantages.


New Around Here
ZFS is a more recent file system created by Sun. Not sure this is easily mountable on a conventional PC for data recovery.

Just a quick point - according to what I've read, ZFS would actually be more recoverable than a typical RAID 5 array of other filesystems. Just slot it into an OS that runs ZFS (OpenSolaris, FreeBSD, Linux with Fuse) and it should be able to pick it up.

However, I don't have a N5500 and can't confirm that the reality matches the theory :)


Regular Contributor


You are correct. ZFS is easily recoverable. It is independent of controller or order. So once you have the members or min members the pool would be accessible on anything the can understand zfs.

EON is a live image and small distro that will let you get at a pool in an emergency or run a zfs storage http://eonstorage.blogspot.com


Regular Contributor
Just a quick Caveat. ZFS is a potentially amazing enterprise file system from Sun, but it is NOT in widespread use. Do a quick google search for "ZFS data loss" before you rely on it. If you read some of the links, you'll eventually end up in the ZFS forum on Sun's site.

Amazingly, if you read some of the threads about data loss with ZFS, the official response from the Sun people is that you should expect this kind of thing if you run ZFS on consumer hardware - that ZFS makes some critical assumptions that it is running on high-end (i.e. built by Sun) hardware, that can result in data loss if certain problems crop up.

Further, recovery tools like fsck don't always get your data back.

Do your backups, and be careful.

Despite sounding down on ZFS, I think it is brilliantly conceived, and I really hope Sun can complete the suite of support software to the point where it is truly worth relying on.

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