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Btrfs vs. XFS: A Brief Comparison

Various file systems are available in operating systems, including Linux distros and Windows. These file systems can store the data through the data structure systems. Operating systems separate the data into pieces to isolate and identify data from the file systems. File systems like XFS and Brtfs are the most popular among others. However, it is always confusing for the users whether Brtfs or XFS is better. This long guide will explain the brief difference between Brtfs and XFS.

Btrfs vs. XFS: A Brief Comparison

Let’s take a look at the basic information about the XFS and Btrfs and how they are different from each other:

What Is Btrfs?

Btrfs is a file system based on the copy-on-write with the logical volume manager. It was developed to implement advanced features and focus on easy administration and fault tolerance. The word “btrfs” stands for the “B-Tree File System”, which was initially developed in 2007 at the Oracle Corporation for Linux. Moreover, it is licensed under GPL and also open for community contribution.

Features of Btrfs

  1. Brtfs supports copy-on-write data and metadata. The blocks are copied by Btrfs, which then writes the duplicates to the new location.
  2. The system can delete read-only snapshots after the backup is complete.
  3. Btrfs offers online defragmentation and resizing.
  4. You can add or remove devices while the file systems are still online.
  5. Btrfs supports zlib and LZO compression algorithms and offers transparent compression (default).
  6. Btrfs automatically identifies solid state drives (SSD) and disables all spinning media optimizations.

What Is XFS?

One of the most reliable file systems used in Linux is XFS. Initially, it was developed by Silicon Graphics Inc. and published in 1994 on their UNIX-based IRIX platform. The file system was later handed over to the open-source community, which incorporated it into the kernel in 2001. Red Hat-based operating systems such as CentOS, RHEL, and Rocky Linux even choose this installation format by default.

XFS is the best choice if your server and storage devices are enormous and you don’t need to shrink the size of the file system. When average file sizes are huge, XFS works excellently even with smaller storage arrays (hundreds of megabytes, for example).

Features of XFS

  1. XFS tries its best to store files consecutively as much as possible. While B+ trees facilitate the search for accessible areas, the concept of areas allows the unrestricted areas of adjacent blocks to be distributed efficiently. If a file has “holes”, XFS skips them rather than wasting space on empty blocks.
  2. XFS has its volume manager and can span many storage devices. When creating a file system, it is possible to choose the size of each striped drive and the number of drives per stripe for striped disk arrays (e.g., RAID 5).
  3. XFS is designed for parallel access. As indicated earlier, it divides the storage space into separate allocation groups. Each allocation group works much like a different file system, managing its space usage and creating its metadata.

Brtfs vs. XFS: A Comparison Table

Now, we will consider some factors and provide a brief comparison between Brtfs and XFS file systems:

Factors Btrfs XFS
Compatibility Btrfs file system has built-in RAID capability and is compatible with multiple devices. One XFS file system cannot be stretched across multiple drives or partitions because the XFS file system does not support multiple devices.
LVM Support You can add multiple storage or partitions to a single Btrfs file system using the built-in Logical Volume Manager (LVM) of the Btrfs file system. Use in-built logical volume managers, such as LVM 2, to merge different partitions in an XFS file system. You must use built-in programs, such as dm-raid or mdadm, to configure the RAID array.
Size Modification While the Btrfs file system is mounted, it can grow (increase the file system size) or shrink (decrease the size of the file system). When an Xfs file system is mounted, it is possible to grow (increase the size of the file system) the file system but not to shrink it (decrease the size of the file system).
Compression Options A built-in file system-level compression capability is available in the Btrfs file system. To save disk space, you can use this function for the comparison of a single directory, a single file, or an entire file system. The XFS file system lacks a built-in file system-level compression option.
Partial Block Allocation The Btrfs file system supports partial block allocation. The XFS file system does not support partial block allocation.
Tail Packing The Btrfs file system allows tail packing. There is no tail-packing feature in the XFS file system.
Block Size The Btrfs file system supports variable block sizes, saving much disk space. The XFS file system supports fixed block sizes.


This guide compares the Btrfs and XFS file systems and details the comparison of the critical attributes of each file system. Both file systems have various features and unique compatibility, which are equally amazing. With the comparison, you can choose the system that suits your specific requirements and preferences.

About the author

Prateek Jangid

A passionate Linux user for personal and professional reasons, always exploring what is new in the world of Linux and sharing with my readers.