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I'm looking for a file system for an external HDD which will be basically used for backups. It will only be used with Linux machines, so I don't mind having a Linux-specific file system. I may consider encrypting the drive, but it is not necessary since I don't mind encrypting sensitive files and directories manually.

I did some research on file systems like ext4, Btrfs and XFS and even found a benchmark, but I couldn't come to a conclusion.

Is there a significant difference between file systems supported by Linux which I should consider in this setup?

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ZFS is an ideal candidate in this case because of robust checksums, snapshots, the ability to export and detach the pool, and use ZFS send and receive for high efficiency differential backups.

One important gotcha with external usb drives is to make certain that your pool isn't going to be marked as faulted if your drive spins down for power saving. There are workarounds for this such as disabling power saving on the device, or export the pool after your backups complete so that it can safely sleep.

Also, lz4 is great for compression and is available in later pool versions.

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backups tend to contain lots of identical files, so if you're doing a file-copy type backup (eg using rsync) something that inherently de-duplicates could be a win.

ZFS with its hash based de-duplications would be a candidate for this,

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