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What is the point of doing btrfs balance on one device?

btrfs balance start /mnt

What benefit will that give if /mnt is hosted on a single drive?

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BTRFS during a conversion will use free space on the drive for its metadata block groups. Because free space can be fragmented the metadata block groups can be smaller then the default size -- they're bound by the free space layout. Running btrfs balance will merge these smaller block groups together, resulting in a more compact storage of metadata blocks.

https://btrfs.readthedocs.io/en/latest/btrfs-convert.html

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