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What's The Fastest Linux Filesystem On Cheap Flash Media? - page 2

What's The Fastest Filesystem On Cheap Flash Drives?

  • October 26, 2010
  • By David North
If you're only using your flashtoy on one linux computer or only trading among linuxboxen, no problem. Use Ext4.

For Apple, Linux can read and write HFS+ just fine, but on two Snow Leopard installs it was extremely slow writing the kernel directory (one test took over two hours!) The same run on VFAT took a bit over seven minutes. Stick with VFAT.

Windows? There's a good argument for experimenting with NTFS, but most of the time VFAT will suffice.

Why Those Filesystems?

Simple. They're the logical choices from Gnome's Disk Utility. The idea was to test filesystems normal folks might actually use on their flash drive. But it's impossible not to be curious at least about XFS and Btrfs, even though they're unlikely candidates.

XFS was easy to analyze, since it took so long we only ran one test to the end (19 minutes on tasks that took six on other systems.) Stay away.

Btrfs, on the other hand, was very competitive with Ext4. It didn't win, but it came close. Considering its raw state, it doesn't offer any advantage right now, but it's certainly the one to watch.

Ted wanted it very clear that the results you see here do not reflect how these filesystems will work on hard drives or SSDs. They really don't. Remember: flash is weird!

Test Methodology

Well over 200 tests were run using eight computers running 12 operating systems. Ten flash units were used, some USB drives and others in one of five card readers. Small, medium and large workloads were tested. The results were consistently weird, but almost always favored Ext4.

Tests were run from hard disk to flash, from flash to flash, and to get as clean a result as possible, from ramdisk to flash and back. The variances were interesting, but usually not far from the numbers you've already seen. Your results will vary! So running your own tests is highly recommended.

To duplicate these tests, download the linux 2.6.34 beezyball and run "time rsync -rv from -> to && time sync && time umount flash". Best to live on the edge and run as root.

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