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In the tech world, you may have heard of many file systems. This post will be covering what the Btrfs file system is and why it’s different from other file systems. Btrfs has been trying to gain traction for years, and recently its gained a little more.  

Btrfs was originally designed by Oracle and implemented back in 2009 to be used within Linux. Why Linux? Well, it is the best OS to use it on in that most servers run on Linux. That means that the majority of data on the internet is stored on Linux based servers.

What does Btrfs stand for?

Btrfs stands for b-tree file system. It is great for storing large items such as databases and file systems. The main selling point of Btrfs is that it will be a lot more scalable and easier to manage than systems such as ext4 and NTFS.

Is Btrfs Better Than ext4?

The short answer is that it depends on the use. Btrfs has built upon many of the noteworthy aspects of ext4, such as speed enhancements, snapshots, and self-protective measures. Where it may be found lacking is on single drive systems. In this case, an ext4 use would make more sense (for now). Scalability and multidrive expansions would be wasted on most vanilla consumer use cases (again, for now).

Quick Comparison 

Btrfs ext4
Max Partition Size 16 exbibytes (EiB) 1 exbibyte (EiB)
Max File Size 16 exbibytes (EiB) 16 Tebibytes (TiB)
Native Checksum Yes No
Max # of files 4 billion 264
Transparent Compression Yes No
Transparent Encryption Not yet Yes
Snap Shots Yes No

Btrfs has snapshots! This means that better backup measures can be taken to protect your data further. This is crucial in the NAS world because we keep so many important things on them.

It also has automatic protection measures that keep your data from becoming corrupt. This is especially useful in specific raid configurations such as Raid 5.

Within a raid array, Btrfs shines as it has built-in snapshots and checksums. No other software is necessary. It also has data cycle redundancy checks and keeps an eye out for silent data corruption (bit rot) so you won’t wake up one day to a worthless chunk of unreadable data. If it detects corruption, it will automatically attempt to repair the data.

What NAS Brands Use Btrfs?

Here is the list of NAS brands that currently support Btrfs.

  • Synology – see the full list of Btrfs models here.
  • TerraMaster – all models 2019 and up

[Check out our bestNASreview on the best home NAS.]

Conclusion

Btrfs is an excellent filesystem, but we don’t think that disqualifies other NAS boxes because they don’t use it. Instead, it comes down to your usage. If you are storing terabytes upon terabytes of data and you find yourself constantly adding more drives to increase the space, then it is the right file system for you. If you have relatively small amounts of data, ext4, hfs+, or NTFS may suit you just fine.

If you want a more in-depth look into Btrfs, check out the Btrfs Wiki.