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What is the safest hard drive format (NTFS, HFS+, XFS, ZFS, ...) for archiving or/and storing media (data)? I'd prefer to have the data not corrupt and be relatively safe from corruption and other things. I would also like to have the format to be accessible by Windows (Vista) as well.

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Stick with ext3 or ext4. While other formats such as ZFS certainly have their advantages, few filesystems (other than NTFS) have as broad OS support as ext3/4.

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NTFS does not have broad, quality support. – Charles Stewart Dec 19 '11 at 9:45

Your main limit is Windows access. If it wasn't for that, you'd probably be best off with ZFS... If you used *BSD instead of Linux. But as you have Ubuntu, I'd say: stick with ext4.

This will not be natively supported by Windows, but nothing really good will - and the ext family is most popular and stable, so many 3rd party Windows programs offer support for it (like Total Commander plugins). Since Ext4 can be mounted in backward-compatibility mode, you'd probably be able to use some programs that by default support only ext2/3.

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tar is a rock-solid, append-only filesystem, which is well-suited to archiving. You can write raw to tar from UNIX, so:

tar cf -b $BLOCKSIZE /dev/hda ~

or from Windows you can create/extract tar files using the very capable Winzip, but that leaves you with the problem of raw read/write dev access from Windows. Since Windows Server 2003, this has been tricky to do, but the code from the DiskSector project (untested!) looks promising. I leave this as a project for yourself to package this up into convenient scripts...

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