The Benefits of Ext4 File Systems

In general, you may not have a reason to ever think about the file system your server is using. Most Linux distributions will automatically format your drive to its default file system unless you use an advanced install method. For many years, Ext3 has been the standard for most Linux distributions. Now, some are switching to Ext4. The following are some key advantages of Ext4 file systems.

  • Large file sizes – Ext4 can support larger file sizes up to 16 terabytes
  • Larger file system size – An Ext4 file system can grow as large as 1 exabyte.
  • More subdirectories – An Ext4 directory can contain 64,000 subdirectories vs. 32,000 in Ext3.
  • Journaling optional – You can turn journaling off on an Ext4 system.
  • Overall performance – Features such as multiblock allocation, metadata checksumming, journal checksumming, persistent preallocation, online defragmentation and many others give ext4 a performance edge in many file system operations.

Is it worth an upgrade? It depends on what you are doing with your server. Generally speaking it is not a good idea to upgrade a production server unless you are prepared for downtime. Ext4 can mount an Ext3 drive as Ext4, which you might find handy at times, but in general, you can wait to upgrade your file system when you upgrade your hardware.