Hello everyone. I’m going to build a new PC soon and I’m trying to maximize its reliability all I can. I’m using Debian Bookworm. I have a 1TB M2 SSD to boot on and a 4TB SATA SSD for storage. My goal is for the computer to last at least 10 years. It’s for personal use and work, playing games, making games, programming, drawing, 3d modelling etc.

I’ve been reading on filesystems and it seems like the best ones to preserve data if anything is lost or corrupted or went through a power outage are BTRFS and ZFS. However I’ve also read they have stability issues, unlike Ext4. It seems like a tradeoff then?

I’ve read that most of BTRFS’s stability issues come from trying to do RAID5/6 on it, which I’ll never do. Is everything else good enough? ZFS’s stability issues seem to mostly come from it having out-of-tree kernel modules, but how much of a problem is this in real-life use?

So far I’ve been thinking of using BTRFS for the boot drive and ZFS for the storage drive. But maybe it’s better to use BTRFS for both? I’ll of course keep backups but I would still like to ensure I’ll have to deal with stuff breaking as little as possible.

Thank you in advance for the advice.

  • JWBananas
    110 months ago

    I am sorry that you had to personally experience data loss from one specific hardware failure. I will amend the post to indicate that a proper hardware RAID controller should use the SNIA Common RAID DDF. Even mdadm can read it in the event of a controller failure.

    Any mid- to high-tier MegaRAID card should support it. I have successfully pulled disks directly from a PERC 5 and imported them to a PERC 8 without issues due to the standardized format.

    ZFS is great too if you have the knowledge and know-how to maintain it properly. It’s extremely flexible and extremely powerful. But like most technologies, it comes with its own set of tradeoffs. It isn’t the most performant out-of-the-box, and it has a lot of knobs to turn. And no filesystem, regardless of how resilient it is, will ever be as resilient to power failures as a battery/supercapacitor-backed path to NVRAM.

    To put it simply, ZFS is sufficiently complex to be much more prone to operator error.

    For someone with the limited background knowledge that the OP seems to have on filesystem choices, it definitely wouldn’t be the easiest or fastest choice for putting together a reliable and performant system.

    If it works for you personally, there’s nothing wrong with that.

    Or if you want to trade anecdotes, the only volume I’ve ever lost was on a TrueNAS appliance after power failure, and even iXsystems paid support was unable to assist. Ended up having to rebuild and copy from an off-site snapshot.