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What is a file system ?

A file system is a method of storing

and organizing computer files and their data.
It organizes these files into a database for the storage,
organization, manipulation, and retrieval by the
computer's operating system.
File systems are used on data storage devices such
as hard disks or CD-ROMs to maintain the physical
location of the files.

Aspects of file system :

Most file systems make use of an underlying data storage
device that offers access to fixed-size physical sectors,
generally a power of 2 in size ( 512 bytes or 1, 2, or
4 KiBare most common ).
The file system is responsible for organizing these
sectors into files and directories, and keeping track of
which sectors belong to which file and which are not
being used.
Most file systems address data in fixed-sized units called
"clusters" or "blocks" which contain a certain number
of disk sectors (usually 1-64). This is the smallest amount
of disk space that can be allocated to hold a file.
However, file systems need not make use of a storage
device at all. A file system can be used to organize and
represent access to any data, whether it is stored or
dynamically generated .
File names
A file name is a name assigned to a file in order to
secure storage location in the computer
Whether the file system has an underlying storage
device or not, file systems typically have directories
which associate file names with files, usually by
connecting the file name to an index in a file allocation
table of some sort, such as the FAT in a DOS file system,
or an inode in a Unix-like file system

Types of file system :

• Disk file systems
• Flash file systems
• Tape file systems
• Database file systems
• Transactional file systems
• Network file systems
• Shared disk file systems
• Special purpose file systems

Disk file systems

A disk file system is a file system designed for the
storage of files on a data storage device, most commonly
a disk drive, which might be directly or indirectly
connected to the computer. Examples of disk file systems
include FAT , NTFS, HFS and HFS+, HPFS, ext2, ext3, ext
4 and Linux SWAP .
Flash file systems
A flash file system is a file system designed for storing
files on flash memory devices.
These are becoming more prevalent as the number of
mobile devices is increasing, and the capacity of flash
memories increase.
While a disk file system can be used on a flash device,
this is suboptimal for several reasons:

Erasing blocks: Flash memory blocks have to be

explicitly erased before they can be rewritten. The
time taken to erase blocks can be significant, thus it
is beneficial to erase unused blocks while the device
is idle.

Random access: Disk file systems are optimized to

avoid disk seeks whenever possible, due to the high
cost of seeking. Flash memory devices impose no
seek latency.

Wear levelling: Flash memory devices tend to wear

out when a single block is repeatedly overwritten;
flash file systems are designed to spread out writes

Tape file systems

A tape file system is a file system and tape format
designed to store files on tape in a self-describing form.
Magnetic tapes are sequential storage media, posing
challenges to the creation and efficient management of a
general-purpose file system.
IBM has recently announced a new file system for tape
called the Linear Tape File System. The IBM
implementation of this file system has been released as
the open-source IBM Long Term File System product.

Database file systems

A recent concept for file management is the idea of a
database-based file system.
Instead of, or in addition to, hierarchical structured
management, files are identified by their characteristics,
like type of file, topic, author, or similar metadata.

Transactional file systems

Some programs need to update multiple files "all at
once." Transaction processing introduces
the isolation guarantee, Transactions also provide
the atomicity guarantee, that operations inside of a
transaction are either all committed, or the transaction
can be aborted and the system discards all of its partial
This means that if there is a crash or power failure, after
recovery, the stored state will be consistent. Either the
software will be completely installed or the failed
installation will be completely rolled back,
Windows, beginning with Vista, added transaction
support to NTFS

Network file systems

A network file system is a file system that acts as a client
for a remote file access protocol, providing access to files
on a server.
Examples of network file systems include clients for the
NFS, AFS, SMB protocols, and file-system-like clients
for FTP and WebDAV.

Shared disk file systems

A shared disk file system is one in which a number of
machines (usually servers) all have access to the same
external disk subsystem
The file system arbitrates access to that subsystem,
preventing write collisions.
Examples include GFS from Red Hat, GPFS from IBM,
and SFS from DataPlow.

Special purpose file systems

A special purpose file system is basically any file system
that is not a disk file system or network file system.
This includes systems where the files are arranged
dynamically by software, intended for such purposes as
communication between computer processes
File systems under various operating

File systems under Linux

Linux supports many different file systems, but common
choices for the system disk include the ext* family ( such
as ext2 , ext3 and ext4), XFS, JFS.
File systems under Solaris
The Sun Microsystems Solaris operating system in earlier
releases defaulted to UFS for bootable and
supplementary file syst
It also supports VxFS, QFS,ZFS.

File systems under Mac OS X

Mac OS X uses a file system that it inherited from
classic Mac OS called HFS Plus, sometimes called Mac OS
Extended. HFS Plus is a metadata-rich and case
preserving file system.
Due to the Unix roots of Mac OS X, Unix permissions
were added to HFS Plus.
Later versions of HFS Plus added journaling to prevent
corruption of the file system structure and introduced a
number of optimizations to the allocation algorithms in an
attempt to defragment files automatically without
requiring an external defragmenter.

File systems under Microsoft Windows

Windows makes use of the FAT and NTFS file systems.
Unlike many other operating systems, Windows uses
a drive letter abstraction at the user level to distinguish
one disk or partition from another.
For example, the path C:\WINDOWS

Limits of various file system

File system Max file Allowed Max file

name characters in size
length directory
FAT 12 8.3 (255 Any Unicode exc 32 MB
UTF-16 code ept NUL (with
units with LFN)
FAT 16 8.3 (255 Any Unicode exc 2 GB
UTF-16 code ept NUL (with
units with LFN)
FAT 32 8.3 (255 Any Unicode exc 4 GB
UTF-16 code ept NUL (with
units with LFN)
HFS 31 bytes Any byte except 2 GB

HPFS 255 bytes Any byte except 2 GB

NTFS 255 Any Unicode 16 EB
character except null
and\ / : * ? " <
HFS PLUS 255 UTF-16 Any slightly less
code units valid Unicode than 8 EB





Self study On File

Submitted to
submitted by
Mr. Rajeev Pandey sir
Prashant Sharma