Filesystem types

Different computers and devices use different filesystems because each filesystem has its own optimal applications, its own drawbacks, and requirements.

ReclaiMe recovers data from the following filesystems:

FAT - variations of the FAT filesystem (FAT16 and FAT32). Typically, relatively low-capacity devices such as memory cards, thumbdrives, and the like use the FAT filesystem.

exFAT - Extended FAT filesystem, used for high capacity flash drives (like SDHC cards) by Windows Vista Service Pack 1, Windows CE 6.0 and higher versions.

NTFS - by far the most common filesystem on the computers running Windows (XP, Vista, Windows 7).

ReFS - a filesystem developed by Microsoft for their Windows 8 Server.

HFS - Mac OS Standard filesystem, used on Apple computers. HFS is obsolete and it is being phased out by Apple. Starting with Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard), Mac OS does not format disks to HFS, and existing HFS disks are read only.

HFSPlus - Mac OS Extended filesystem, the default filesystem on Apple computers and other complex devices like iPod.

UfsBE and UfsLE - two variations of the UFS filesystem, used on Apple Macs and UNIX.

ext (ext2, ext3, and ext4) - different generations of the standard Linux filesystem.

XFS - the filesystem used in Linux installations and NAS devices.

RAW - the placeholder filesystem name used in Windows if the filesystem type cannot be determined.

Distribution of incidents by filesystem type

In March 2014 we did an analysis of 2013's telemetry data to find out which filesystem is the most involved in data recovery incidents. By and large, NTFS wins hands-down, being involved in two-thrids of all recoveries.

The research is based on approximately 30,000 incidents where the filesystem type was reliably established. The result mostly reflects the facts we already knew, namely that Windows is still by far the most popular desktop PC operating system, and NTFS is the filesystem most widely used on these PCs.

Interestingly, two of the filesystems monitored, UFS and HFS, did not make it into the results having too few cases. Actually, there was not a single case involving HFS recovery during 2013. So, we consider the original HFS obsolete and completely replaced by HFS+ in practical use.

ReFS did not apparently gain much use, being relatively new. That's probably why it takes the last place in the rating. This is certainly not because ReFS is infallible. It does fail, and spectacularly so, based on a few cases we had with large (50TB+) units.

Distribution of data recovery incidents by filesystem involved
NTFS63%
FAT14%
EXT10%
XFS8%
HFS+4%
ReFS1%

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