About file systems and formats

Jerry McAllister jerrymc at msu.edu
Thu Mar 29 21:47:13 UTC 2007

On Thu, Mar 29, 2007 at 02:25:57PM -0600, Andrew Falanga wrote:

> Yesterday while working on a problem at work, a colleague and I were talking
> about the various file systems and something that I have always wondered on
> is what are the various file systems doing when a format is being done.  For
> example, at home, my PC has 2 80gb drives.  One for Windows and the other
> for FreeBSD.  It took Windows nearly an hour (give or take) to format the
> 80gb drive.  On the other hand, it took FreeBSD little more than 3 - 5
> minutes to format its 80gb drive.

> Both drives are similar in capability.  They are both 7200 rpm drives, etc.
> So what is so much different about NTFS from FFS?  Are the file systems
> really that different that MS's system is simply dog slow, or is the format
> for FreeBSD skipping some "integrity" checks on the surface of the drive or
> whatever (this assumes that the MS install process is actually doing this).
> Please understand, I intend only to find the answer to the question with
> this.  I'm looking for starting a "war" about who's file system rocks more
> than the other.  The idea of an integrity check was just speculation between
> my colleague and I because there such a speed difference in formatting
> things (once windows is installed) when choosing between a "Quick Format" or
> a "Full Format".

Unix systems such as FreeBSD do not usually do an actual 'format' in the
way we used to think of Format.   When you do a newfs on a FreeBSD partition
it is creating a filesystem by writing file system tables and copies of
those tables in specific places across the partition.   It makes use of
the low level format that is already put there by the manufacturer.
I don't really know how much of that MS does when it builds an NTFS
file system.


> Can someone here offer some in depth information on this for me?  Thanks.
> Andy
> P.S. on a side note, but related to this, in what directories under the
> system sources will I find the source code for the FFS used by FreeBSD, and
> how are those modules structured?
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