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Apple Doing Virtual RAID In Leopard, Microsoft Only In Home Server

Robin Harris has an article about ZFS, an open source file system that will be available to users of Apple’s upcoming Leopard service pack. It will include a number of exciting file system features, including:

  • Prevents data corruption through smart use of checksums for every block on every hard disk, self-validating every single bit of your data.
  • RAID without RAID - virtual RAID system that treats all disks as one single disk. Just add a hard drive to your system and it becomes part of one giant hard drive, and it runs faster than most typical RAID solutions.
  • Creates snapshots of all your data, letting you view data at several previous points in time, and letting you restore from these snapshots if something goes wrong.

This is some great stuff, and Mac users are really lucky to be getting this in their next major update. Windows users are getting all these features, but only as part of Home Server, which is hugely dissapointing. If Apple is giving this stuff away, basically for free, Microsoft needs to think about doing the same, at least at some level, since the technology to do so for Windows is already in existence in another version of Windows.

Yes, it would take time, but if Microsoft is serious about matching or beating Mac OS when possible and realistic, it needs to make this available to paying customers of Windows Vista. My recommendation: Announce it as a Windows Vista Ultimate Extra, available some time after the release of Home Server. Realistically, how long could it take to release the Home Server file system as an Ultimate Extra, porting the code from Home Server to Vista Ultimate as an Extra? Eight months? Twelve?

The code is there. If you don’t want to give it away for free, give it to Ultimate. You owe us.
(via Digg)

Speaking of Home Server, a build of it leaked out, and Microsoft was fuming, revoking the access of anyone named “Richard” to the beta. The Home Server blogged cleared up some confusion, saying that it wasn’t a Microsoft MVP that did it, and that they caught the person (oh, and he/she wasn’t named Richard after all).

April 18th, 2007 Posted by Nathan Weinberg | Home Server, Server, Vista, Apple, Windows | 3 comments

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  1. Uhhh,

    Windows already does 2 & 3. Striped volumes have been supporte since Windows XP, and volume shadows are in both Windows Server 2003 and Vista.

    The filesystem technology in WHS (disk expander) relates to managing dynamic drives, allowing for disks to be easily added and removed as required. Not much use in a desktop OS.

    Comment by Andy | April 18, 2007

  2. Something got lost in translation. ZFS treats all disk blocks as part of a pool. You don’t actually manage volumes, ZFS does. So disks don’t have to be the same size to use their capacity.

    Also, the key thing about the snapshots is that they are cheaper in CPU and I/Os than overwriting the existing file. So they make snapshots a no-brainer.

    If you want to know more about ZFS, check out ZFS: Threat or Menace?


    Comment by Robin Harris | April 19, 2007

  3. Yes, both of you guys, there’s a lot more to both that needs to be covered in depth. There are some great file system technologies the end user is not getting to take advantage of.

    And Andy, the advantage of the WHS filesystem is the virtual RAID, as I said in my post title. I want to be able to add multiple hard drives of different sizes and types (including external) and treat it as a single volume. That has a lot of value in a desktop OS, especially Media Center systems.

    Comment by Nathan Weinberg | April 19, 2007

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