mkfs compared on different filesystems

How long does it take to mkfs a 10GB disk with all the different filesystems out there?

See my test results here using the new guestfish sparse / filesystem support. btrfs is “best” and ext3 comes off “worst”.

As a test this is interesting, but it’s not that relevant for most users — they will be most interested in how well the filesystem performs for their workload, which is not affected by mkfs time and hard to measure in general benchmarks anyway.


In response to Stephen’s comment, I retested this using a memory-backed block device so there is no question about whether the host backing store affects the test:

$ for fs in ext2 ext3 ext4 xfs jfs reiserfs nilfs2 ntfs msdos btrfs hfs hfsplus gfs gfs2
    do guestfish sparse /dev/shm/test.img 10G : run : echo $fs : sfdiskM /dev/sda , : \
        time mkfs $fs /dev/sda1
elapsed time: 1.45 seconds
elapsed time: 2.71 seconds
elapsed time: 2.58 seconds
elapsed time: 0.13 seconds
elapsed time: 0.27 seconds
elapsed time: 0.33 seconds
elapsed time: 0.08 seconds
elapsed time: 2.07 seconds
elapsed time: 0.14 seconds
elapsed time: 0.07 seconds
elapsed time: 0.17 seconds
elapsed time: 0.17 seconds
elapsed time: 0.84 seconds
elapsed time: 2.76 seconds


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4 responses to “mkfs compared on different filesystems

  1. Stephen Smoogen

    Isn’t that a comparison of a filesystem ontop of another filesystem or were those real hardware underneath? [Or was it a filesystem inside of memory?]

    Now the question is how long does it take fsck each of those as that is something people will really really feel 🙂

  2. rich


    guestfish runs a virtual machine (appliance) and the disks attached to that are on a filesystem. In the case of these tests, that was an ext4 filesystem. It is possible also to use memory instead of a backing file, or (if you run this as root) a physical device. However (probably) the overhead of that should be the same for all of those tests.

    It is possible to use guestfish to test fsck times too. But it’s hard to determine a good test that would be relevant to users.

  3. mkntfs zero-fills the entire volume by default. There is a huge difference in time if this is turned off by the -f/–fast/-Q/–quick command line option (which actually we should have done already years ago).

    In my case, it’s 1.53 vs 0.03 seconds.

    This suggests that apparently mkntfs is the fastest.

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