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The file system is one of the most important parts of an operating system. The file system stores and manages user data on disk drives, and ensures that whatís read from storage is identical to what was originally written. In addition to storing user data in files, the file system also creates and manages information about files and about itself. Besides guaranteeing the integrity of all that data, file systems are also expected to be extremely reliable and have very good performance.
File systems update their structural information (called metadata) by synchronous writes. Each metadata update may require many separate writes, and if the system crashes during the write sequence, metadata may be in inconsistent state. At the next boot the filesystem check utility (called fsck) must walk through the metadata structures, examining and repairing them. This operation takes a very very long time on large filesystems. And the disk may not contain sufficient information to correct the structure. This results in misplaced or removed files. A journaling file system uses a separate area called a log or journal. Before metadata changes are actually performed, they are logged to this separate area. The operation is then performed. If the system crashes during the operation, there is enough information in the log to "replay" the log record and complete the operation. This approach does not require a full scan of the file system, yielding very quick filesystem check time on large file systems, generally a few seconds for a multiple-gigabyte file system. In addition, because all information for the pending operation is saved, no removals or lost-and-found moves are required. Disadvantage of journaling filesystems is that they are slower than other filesystems. Some journaling filesystems: BeFS, HTFS, JFS, NSS, Ext3, VxFS and XFS.
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