NetWorker on Linux – Ditching ext3 for xfs
Posted by Preston on 2009-11-05
Recently when I made an exasperated posting about lengthy ext3 check times and looking forward to btrfs, Siobhán Ellis pointed out that there was already a filesystem available for Linux that met a lot of my needs – particularly in the backup space, where I’m after:
- Being able to create large filesystems that don’t take exorbitantly long to check
- Being able to avoid checks on abrupt system resets
- Speeding up the removal of files when staging completes or large backups abort
That filesystem of course is XFS.
I’ve recently spent some time shuffling data around and presenting XFS filesystems to my Linux lab servers in place of ext3, and I’ll fully admit that I’m horribly embarrassed I hadn’t thought to try this out earlier. If anything, I’m stuck looking for the right superlative to describe the changes.
Case in point – I was (and indeed still am) doing some testing where I need to generate >2.5TB of backup data from a Windows 32-bit client for a single saveset. As you can imagine, not only does this take a while to generate, but it also takes a while to clear from disk. I had got about 400 GB into the saveset the first time I was testing and realised I’d made a mistake with the setup so I needed to stop and start again. On an ext3 filesystem, it took more than 10 minutes after cancelling the backup before the saveset had been fully deleted. It may have taken longer – I gave up waiting at that point, went to another terminal to do something else and lost track of how long it actually took.
It was around that point that I recalled having XFS recommended to me for testing purposes, so I downloaded the extra packages required to use XFS within CentOS and reformatting the ~3TB filesystem to XFS.
The next test that I ran aborted due to a (!!!) comms error 1.8TB through the backup. Guess how long it took to clear the space? No, seriously, guess – because I couldn’t log onto the test server fast enough to actually see the space clearing. The backup aborted, and the space was suddenly back again. That’s a 1.8TB file deleted in seconds.
That’s the way a filesystem should work.
I’ve since done some (in VMs) nasty power-cycle mid-operation tests and the XFS filesystems come back up practically instantaneously – no extended check sessions that make you want to cry in frustration.
If you’re backing up to disk on Linux, you’d be mad to use anything other than XFS as your filesystem. Quite frankly, I’m kicking myself that I didn’t do this years ago.
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