The latest Windows 11 Insider release began offering support for ReFS, referred to as the Resilient File System. Is the end of NTFS coming?
The ReFS file system is currently only available on Windows Server operating systems, but not on client systems, i.e. systems used by the end user. However, according to Microsoft, the ReFS file system, which is designed to “maximize data availability, efficiently scale large data sets across a variety of workloads, and ensure data integrity with corruption tolerance,” may soon replace NTFS.
ReFS vs NTFS
NTFS, known as the New Technology File System, is no longer very new. NTFS, the default file system on client versions of Microsoft’s Windows operating system, was introduced with Windows NT 3.1, which means it will be 30 years old in July 2023.
ReFS and NTFS support a wide range of features, but there are also big differences between the two file systems.
For example, the Resilient File System supports file and volume sizes of up to 35 petabytes. NTFS supports a maximum of 256 terabytes. One petabyte is equal to 1024 terabytes. With most home systems far from reaching these file and volume sizes, it’s clear that the 256 terabyte limit will eventually be reached.
ReFS-specific features (compared to NTFS):
- Block clone: Aims to transform expensive physical file copy operations into fast logical transactions. It reduces workloads, reduces I/O, and improves the performance of operations.
- Sparse VDL: Allows ReFS to quickly reset files, significantly reducing the creation time of fixed VHDs.
- Mirrored accelerated parity (in Storage Spaces Direct): Designed to provide high-performance and capacity-efficient storage. ReFS divides the volumes, which can be its own drives, into performance and capacity tiers. Writes occur in the performance tier, and data moves to the capacity tier in real time.
- File-level snapshots: Creates a new file that contains the data and attributes of a source file.
ReFS lacks support for several key features that NTFS supports. The main features missing include support for file system compression and encryption, disk quotas, and support for removable media or boot.
ReFS Support in Windows 11
ReFS support adds a new option to the Windows 11 operating system. The file system is only possible to be supported in the Enterprise, Education, and Workstation editions of Windows 11. On the other hand, the Twitter user who revealed the support information is using the Pro version of Windows 11.
Another aspect to consider is that it is not yet possible to convert directly from NTFS to ReFS; this indicates that ReFS can only be selected during the initial installation of the operating system, but not while it is running.
Windows 11 users can enable ReFS on their Windows 11 Insider builds using ViVeTool and the 42189933 ID number. We recommend that you create a full system backup before you try to install Windows 11 on ReFS.
Yes, Microsoft may be preparing to say goodbye to NTFS with this development. Would you switch from NTFS to ReFS if you were given such an option? We look forward to your feedback below.