Igor Bubelov About Blog Photos

Picking a Suitable File System for Backups

November 30, 2019

Backups are crucial, especially for someone who prefers to store his data without the “help” of third parties. Having a fast SSD helps to speed things up a notch, so I’ve bought one from SanDisk, and it works great, compared to my old HDD. Was it the best option? Not sure, I guess it would be cheaper to buy a M2 SSD storage enclosure and the storage itself separately. That way, I would have more choice and better price, all things being equal. I’ll try that option too because I need another external storage device anyway.

It’s not enough to pick a decent storage: picking a suitable file system might be a bit of a headache too. I like ext4, and it serves me well on my Linux laptop but my backups should be also readable on Windows and macOS, which means that ext4 is not an option. So, what other file system can be used? There are two obvious candidates:

  • exFAT
  • NTFS

exFAT wins in terms of compatibility but NTFS is much more modern, and it has a bunch of nice-to-have features such as journaling. Actually, NTFS is not that bad in terms of adoption too. You can obviously use it on Windows, but it works great with Linux too, thanks to NTFS-3G. The only problem is macOS: it doesn’t allow to write data on NTFS volumes by default, but it can read any data from them. I’m not planning to write any data from macOS, so I’ve decided to go with NTFS for my backups.