Bad performance when accessing a lot of small files

Alfred Perlstein alfred at
Fri Dec 21 13:29:37 PST 2007

* Alexandre Biancalana <biancalana at> [071221 12:48] wrote:
> On 12/21/07, Alfred Perlstein <alfred at> wrote:
> Hi Alfred !
> >
> > There is a lot of very good tuning advice in this thread, however
> > one thing to note is that having ~1 million files in a directory
> > is not a very good thing to do on just about any filesystem.
> I think I was not clear, I will try explain better.
> This Backup Server has a /backup zfs filesystem of 4TB.
> Each host that do backups to this server has a /backup/<hostname> and
> /backup/<hostname>/YYYYMMDD zfs filesystems, the last contains the
> backups for some day of that server.
> My problem is with some hosts that have in your directory structure a
> lot of small files, independent of the hierarchy.

Can you not tar these files together?

> > One trick that a lot of people do is hashing the directories themselves
> > so that you use some kind of computation to break this huge dir into
> > multiple smaller dirs.
> I have the two cases, when you have a lot of files inside on directory
> without any directory organization/distribution but I also have
> problems with hosts that have files organized in a hierarchy like
> YYYY/MM/DD/<files> having no more that 200 files in the day directory
> level, but almost one million of files in total.
> Just for info, I made the previous suggested tuning (raise dirhash,
> maxvnodes) but this improve nothing.
> Thanks for your hint!

What application are you scanning these files with?  I know I had
issues with rsync in particular where I had to have it rsync
smaller pieces of a collection for it to work nicely instead of
going for the whole heirarchy.

- Alfred Perlstein

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