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Btrfs is a modern copy on write (CoW) filesystem for Linux aimed at implementing advanced features while also focusing on fault tolerance, repair and easy administration. Jointly developed at multiple companies, Btrfs is licensed under the GPL and open for contribution from anyone. Not too many companies have said that they are using Btrfs in production, but we welcome those who can say so on the production users page.


Stability status

For a feature status and stability please refer to the Status page. The filesystem disk format is stable; this means it is not expected to change unless there are very strong reasons to do so. If there is a format change, filesystems which implement the previous disk format will continue to be mountable and usable by newer kernels.

The Btrfs code base is under heavy development. Not only is every effort being made to ensure that it remains stable and fast but to make it more so with each and every commit. This rapid pace of development means that the filesystem improves noticeably with every new Linux release so it's highly recommended that users run the most modern kernel possible.

For benchmarks, it's recommended to test the latest stable Linux version, and not any older, as well as the latest Linux development versions. Also, it's recommended to test the various mount options such as different compression options.

As with all software, newly added features may need a few releases to stabilize.

If you find any behavior you suspect to be caused by a bug, performance issues, or have any questions about using Btrfs, please email the Btrfs mailing list (no subscription required). Please report bugs on Bugzilla.


Linux has a wealth of filesystems from which to choose, but we are facing a number of challenges with scaling to the large storage subsystems that are becoming common in today's data centers. Filesystems need to scale in their ability to address and manage large storage, and also in their ability to detect, repair and tolerate errors in the data stored on disk.

Major Features Currently Implemented

  • Extent based file storage
  • 2^64 byte == 16 EiB maximum file size (practical limit is 8 EiB due to Linux VFS)
  • Space-efficient packing of small files
  • Space-efficient indexed directories
  • Dynamic inode allocation
  • Writable snapshots, read-only snapshots
  • Subvolumes (separate internal filesystem roots)
  • Checksums on data and metadata (crc32c)
  • Compression (zlib, LZO, ZSTD), heuristics
  • Integrated multiple device support
    • File Striping
    • File Mirroring
    • File Striping+Mirroring
    • Single and Dual Parity implementations (experimental, not production-ready)
  • SSD (flash storage) awareness (TRIM/Discard for reporting free blocks for reuse) and optimizations (e.g. avoiding unnecessary seek optimizations, sending writes in clusters, even if they are from unrelated files. This results in larger write operations and faster write throughput)
  • Efficient incremental backup
  • Background scrub process for finding and repairing errors of files with redundant copies
  • Online filesystem defragmentation
  • Offline filesystem check
  • In-place conversion of existing ext2/3/4 and reiserfs file systems
  • Seed devices. Create a (readonly) filesystem that acts as a template to seed other Btrfs filesystems. The original filesystem and devices are included as a readonly starting point for the new filesystem. Using copy on write, all modifications are stored on different devices; the original is unchanged.
  • Subvolume-aware quota support
  • Send/receive of subvolume changes
    • Efficient incremental filesystem mirroring
  • Batch, or out-of-band deduplication (happens after writes, not during)

Features by kernel version

As part of the changelog you can also review

Features Currently in Development or Planned for Future Implementation

  • Online filesystem check
  • Object-level mirroring and striping
  • Alternative checksum algorithms
  • In-band deduplication (happes during writes)
  • Hot data tracking and moving to faster devices (or provided on the generic VFS layer)
  • SMR support
  • DAX/persistent memory support
  • The file/directory -level encryption support (fscrypt)

News and Changelog

WARNING: kernels 4.14.25 - 4.14.27 and 4.15.8 - 4.15.9 on big endian machines will damage a filesystem after first umount. Little endian machines are unaffected. Please contact upstream developers if your filesystems were affected, the problem can be manually fixed and is only in the superblock, not data or regular metadata.

btrfs-progs v4.16 (Apr 2018)

  • libbtrfsutil - new LGPL library to wrap userspace functionality
    • several 'btrfs' commands converted to use it:
      • properties
      • filesystem sync
      • subvolume set-default/get-default/delete/show/sync
    • python bindings, tests
  • build
    • use configured pkg-config path
    • CI: add python, musl/clang, built dependencies caching
    • convert: build fix for e2fsprogs 1.44+
    • don't install library links with wrong permissions
  • fixes
    • prevent incorrect use of subvol_strip_mountpoint
    • dump-super: don't verify csum for unknown type
    • convert: fix inline extent creation condition
  • check:
    • lowmem: fix false alert for 'data extent backref lost for snapshot'
    • lowmem: fix false alert for orphan inode
    • lowmem: fix false alert for shared prealloc extents
  • mkfs:
    • add UUID and otime to root of FS_TREE - with the uuid, snapshots will be now linked to the toplevel subvol by the parent UUID
    • don't follow symlinks when calculating size
    • pre-create the UUID tree
    • fix --rootdir with selinux enabled
  • dump-tree: add option to print only children nodes of a given block
  • image: handle missing device for RAID1
  • other:
    • new tests
    • test script cleanups (quoting, helpers)
    • tool to edit superblocks
    • updated docs

Linux v4.16 (Apr 2018)

  • fallocate: implement zero range mode
  • avoid losing data raid profile when deleting a device
  • tree item checker: more checks for directory items and xattrs
  • raid56 recovery: don't use cached stripes, that could be potentially changed and a later RMW or recovery would lead to corruptions or failures
  • let raid56 try harder to rebuild damaged data, reading from all stripes if necessary
  • fix scrub to repair raid56 in a similar way as in the case above
  • cleanups: device freeing, removed some call indirections, redundant bio_put/_get, unused parameters, refactorings and renames
  • RCU list traversal fixups
  • simplify mount callchain, remove recursing back when mounting a subvolume
  • plug for fsync, may improve bio merging on multiple devices
  • compression heurisic: replace heap sort with radix sort, gains some performance
  • add extent map selftests, buffered write vs dio

Read about past releases in the Changelog


Guides and usage information

External Btrfs Documentation / Guides

Links to Btrfs documentation of various Linux distributions:

Project information/Contact

Manual pages

  • Original wiki documentation (obsolete, will be removed)

Developer documentation

  • Developer's FAQ — hints and answers for contributors and developers, general information about patch formatting
  • Development notes — notes, hints, checklists for specific implementation tasks (eg. adding new ioctls)
  • Code documentation — trees, source files, sample code for manipulating trees
  • Data Structures — detailed on-disk data structures
  • Trees — detailed in-tree representation of files and directories
  • Original COW B-tree: Source code in C that implements the COW B-tree algorithms repository. Written by Ohad Rodeh at IBM Research in 2006, and released under a BSD license. This is a reference implementation, that works in user space.
  • Unmerged features
    • In-band (write) time deduplication

Source code download

Wiki editing

The wiki contributions are welcome! Please create an account and wait for approval (this is a necessary spam protection). You can try to catch some of the wiki admins on IRC and expedite the account creation.

Articles, presentations, podcasts

Historical resources

Links to old or obsolete documentation, articles. Kept for historical reasons. Stuff that's more than 3 years old.

Articles, presentations, podcasts


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