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The 4 best SSD-friendly file systems on Linux

Setting up a new SSD on your Linux laptop or desktop? Unsure of what the best file system is to use? We can help! Here are the four best SSD-friendly file systems on Linux!

1. Ext4

Extended4 (aka Ext4) is the file system of choice for most distributions on Linux, and there’s a good reason for it. It’s a vast improvement upon Ext3, and includes a lot of great features, including ones for Solid State Drives (SSDS).

Despite how ubiquitous Ext4 is on Linux, if you look at forums and Reddit groups online, you might notice users disparaging Ext4, complaining about features it lacks and telling beginners to avoid it in favor of other boutique file systems.

The truth is, despite the debate around Ext4 in the Linux community,  it’s the single best file-system to use, especially when you’re looking to use an SSD. It’s reliable, trusted, and it offers up some excellent SSD-specific features like TRIM (necessary for the health of your drive,)  and the ability to disable journaling which can vastly improve the longevity of a solid-state hard drive.

Advantages of using Ext4

  1. Ext4 is widely used on almost every Linux distribution today, and most Linux users are familiar with Ext4, so finding help when using it on your SSD isn’t very difficult.
  2. Along with the support for TRIM, Ext4 also includes a lot of other SSD optimizations (for performance).
  3. Users can disable journaling to protect the limited read/write nature of their SSD.

Disadvantages of using Ext4

  1. Ext4 is built on older technology, so it lacks modern file-system features found in systems like E2FS and BtrFS.
  2. Ext4 has journaling on by default, and new users likely won’t know how to disable it to save read/writes on their SSDs.

Get your hands on Ext4

The best part about Ext4 is that you don’t need to enable a kernel module or install anything to use it. Just set up your Linux distribution of choice like usual on your SSD, and you’re ready to go!

2. BtrFS

BtrFS, by Oracle Corp, is a new kind of file-system that was created to mitigate problems, improve system performance, and make repair simple.

One reason that many people consider BtrFS for an SSD is that it doesn’t use a file system journal. Not having journaling allows it to save on write space (which is limited on SSDs). Also, it has a more modern architecture, which makes it quite fast when accessing data.

As you might expect, BtrFS supports the usual SSD features like TRIM, and other SSD optimizations (like defragmentation, etc.). In addition, BtrFS also has a robust snapshot feature, which allows users to create (and roll-back) changes to the system instantly.

Advantages of using BtrFS

  1. BtrFS doesn’t have journaling on by default, so unlike Ext4, you won’t need to turn it off if you don’t want file system journals eating into your read/write rate.
  2. The file system is new and under development so new features are added regularly.
  3. BtrFS has an SSD defragmentation feature that allows users to clean up the data on their drive.

Disadvantages of using BtrFS

  1. BtrFS is highly unstable and has the potential to crash and corrupt your data if something goes wrong.
  2. BtrFS has a copy-on-write feature that is arguably just as bad as filesystem journaling, and could (potentially) exhaust your SSD read/write limit.

Get your hands on BtrFS

BtrFS has support in the Linux kernel, and many Linux distributions (like OpenSUSE) choose it as the default file system. If you don’t mind OpenSUSE and want to try out this file-system, install Leap! Alternatively, select “BtrFS” in the custom installation section when setting up your Linux PC.

3. XFS

The XFS file system is loved in the Linux community for its ability to handle and manage significant portions of data reliably. It’s also well-known for its high-performance and speed. So, if you have a lot of data, need to access it fast and plan to store it on an SSD, XFS is a great choice.

When you install a Linux OS to XFS on an SSD, you’ll get features comparable to Ext4, such as TRIM, and other optimizations. You’ll also get an SSD defragmentation feature.

Advantages of using XFS

  1. XFS is well-known for its ability to handle large amounts of data with ease. By using XFS on your SSD, you can ensure that your files are safe.
  2. The performance advantages of XFS on an SSD mean that you’ll be able to transfer and access files and data much quicker than other file systems.
  3. XFS has an SSD defragmentation feature, which is very useful, and will help keep your drive healthy.

Disadvantages of using XFS

  1. XFS is a journaling file-system, and it’s not possible to disable this feature. Not being able to disable journaling is something to be wary about if you’re worried about the SSD read/write limit.

Get your hands on XFS

Like Ext4, XFS comes out of the box on quite a lot of Linux distributions. With that said, it’s by no means the default file system, so if you’re interested in using it, you’ll need to do a “custom installation” and specify it as your choice.

4. F2FS

The Flash-Friendly File System (F2FS) is a file system intended for NAND-based storage devices on Linux and other operating systems that support it.

F2FS only focuses on flash memory, so it has dozens of optimizations for SSDs on Linux. However, many Linux users shy away from it as not every Linux distribution supports it in their installation tool.

Advantages of using F2FS

  1. F2FS is explicitly designed for SSDs and other flash storage devices, so your OS will run efficiently and fast.
  2. F2FS is modern and relatively new, so it will most likely get new features as time goes on.

Disadvantages of using F2FS

  1. F2FS is a very new file system. While it’s true that lots of Linux distributions are starting to support it, it can’t be said that every single Linux OS out there makes it easy to install.

Get your hands on F2FS

F2FS has started to pop-up in a lot of Linux distribution’s installation tools. To use this file system on your SSD, do a custom install of your favorite OS and select “F2FS” as the file system.

Conclusion

While SSD support on Linux is slow to start, over the years, we’ve seen some real progress. Hopefully, in the coming years, these file systems will continue to improve their SSD support enough to put it on par with commercial operating systems like Mac and Windows!

Do you use a file system on your SSD not covered in this list? Tell us about it in the comment section down below!

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