What purpose is each suitable for?

  • 4
    Two things: - It's JFS. - Do you just want a comparison of arbitrary filesystems? Or is your choice limited to these three? I'm asking because if you're thinking about ext3, you should really think about ext4. Most people also throw XFS in the mix when they consider JFS. AFAIK, ResierFS has an uncertain future.
    – kbyrd
    Aug 10, 2010 at 22:23
  • 3
    Assuming Linux, you might also want to look at btrfs which is gaining traction lately, and is now an (unsupported) option on openSUSE. Aug 12, 2010 at 9:15
  • 2
    and ZFS please. Since everybody's crazy about it. Aug 12, 2010 at 13:02
  • 7
    There is no reason to take ZFS into account when talking about ext4 in the same thing, since that implies Linux and Linux will not have ZFS as a first-class filesystem any time soon. Thank you, Sun. Thank, you Oracle.
    – wzzrd
    Aug 18, 2010 at 16:09
  • Also take a look at new Btrfs, it's considered as future replacement for ext4 by many developers.
    – Poma
    May 29, 2013 at 11:30

2 Answers 2


I'll just name a few pro and con points for each. This is by no means an exhausting list, just an indication. If there are some big omissions that need to be in this list, leave a comment and I'll add them, so we get a nice, big list in one place.



  • supported by all distro's, commercial and not, and based on ext3, so it's widely tested, stable and proven
  • all kinds for nice features (like extents, subsecond timestamps) which ext3 does not have.
  • Ability to shrink filesystem




  • support for massive filesystems (up to 8 exabytes (yes, 'exa') on 64-bit systems)
  • online defrag
  • supported on upcoming RHEL6 as the 'large filesystem' option
  • proven track record: xfs has been around for ages




  • said to be fast (I have little experience with JFS)
  • originated in AIX: proven technology


  • used and supported by virtually no-one, except IBM (correct me if I'm wrong; I have never seen or heard about JFS used in production, though it obviously must be, somewhere)



  • fast with small files
  • very space efficient
  • stable and mature


  • not very active project anymore, next generation reiser 4 has succeeded it
  • no online defragmenter

Reiser 4


  • very fast with small files
  • atomic transactions
  • very space efficient
  • metadata namespaces
  • plugin architecture, (crypto, compression, dedup and meta data plugins possible)


  • Reiser4 has a very uncertain future and has not been merged yet
  • main supporting distro (SuSE) dropped it years ago
  • Hans Reiser's 'legal issues' are not really helping

I recommend this page for further reading.

  • 3
    I've never used XFS but I've heard many reports of dataloss due to power failures and that a UPS is extremely recommended if you are going to use XFS. Mar 19, 2011 at 18:38
  • 1
    @Arrowmaster I can confirm this from personal experience
    – OneOfOne
    May 8, 2011 at 1:23
  • I have been using XFS as my primary data partition form on both a desktop and laptop for the past year without issue. No UPS, and I have had enough kernel panics to have not shut it down safely quite a few times. Note: I do use ext4 for the root file system though.
    – Ali Lown
    Jun 8, 2011 at 16:53
  • 1
    XFS is also the only fs where, without a massive hardware failure, I've had data loss. I have no idea how they broke it so badly, since in IRIX it always works perfectly.
    – XTL
    Mar 7, 2012 at 8:31
  • 2
    ReiserFS is long dead now (got abandoned halfway through for Reiser 4; still had sereve bugs without solution when finally deprecated), Reiser 4 newer saw the light of day (was supposed to handle features that were pointed out time and again are impossible to implement sanely, like multiple links to directories).
    – vonbrand
    Mar 15, 2013 at 16:35

Nice words about advantages and disadvantages.

My first and last experience with EXT4 on debian linux squeeze (older version 6.0.0 x64) was with 2x500GB harddrives without RAID.

Until now I don't absolutely know what happened, but after few days I realised, that I am out of space. 0 bytes free. A lot of free nodes. du -sh for whole partition wrotes me only 250GB of space is taken. Where has gone remaining 250GB? I don't remember, how did I solve this problem, but since that situation I decided to go back to EXT3. With EXT3 i never had same problem. I think there was problem in version of squeeze, i was working with. Newer versions should be already OK. If you want it for ordinary PC, just use EXT4. In my case for server I'm happy with EXT3. If you are security manager of your IT company - use ReiserFS or Reiser4.

ReiserFS I can recommend to everybody, who wants really massive security and data encryption. But if some happens, and you forget password, you will probably have more than huge problems. ReiserFS is only one opensource file system, which does US army use, because of security and encryption.

So in my case, i USE EXT3 and I don't care if EXT4 is about few % faster or not. I need stable file system without problems and hope you will understand my bad experiences with EXT4.

However I wish you happy and easy work with using any of these FS.

edit: Guys, based on this test - EXT4 is faster than ext3 in most cases: http://www.abclinuxu.cz/blog/rb/2010/9/maly-domaci-test-filesystemu-ext3-ext4-xfs-jfs-reiser4-btrfs

Performance graph is down there too. It could be useful information for you.

  • 1
    Never seen anything like that.
    – vonbrand
    Mar 15, 2013 at 16:37

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