The file system, no matter what operating system that it belongs to, is an extremely important aspect, as it is what holds the user’s data. Let’s us lay aside the performance factor for a second, when it comes to integrity, even a single, major bug, can easily end up corrupting the data.
Anyhow, concerning Windows, I have always been very impressed by its file systems, though older FS like Fat 12/16/32 are more prone to errors. But then again, they belong to a different era, and it’s unfair if one is to judge them from today’s standards.
Nevertheless, file systems like NTFS has come a long way, has received a lot of improvements over the years and as a result, it has become an extremely robust file system. But no matter how well a file system is designed, it is always prone to errors. And when it comes to errors, there can be some errors that are only fixable after a system reboot (say an important file on the OS partition got corrupted).
Or if it was on another partition, then it has to be unmounted first, and until the disk checking is finished, the user (s) won’t be able to access the data on that drive.
Now for you and me, as simple users, a system reboot (or taking a partition ‘offline’) doesn’t mean much. But in professional environments, a system reboot is a costly thing.
So engineers at Microsoft had been doing a lot of improvements to the existing NTFS file system. One major improvement that is easily visible in Windows 8 is that, if some data on a drive got corrupted, the OS will try its best to correct the issue from the background, and the file system will stay ‘online’, the whole time.
Now I’m not going to write about this into more details, as I just noticed something (I’m sure you geeks are already aware of it!) and wanted to just brag about it :).
I use Windows 8 with Ubuntu, and in Ubuntu, though I access the NTFS partitions read-only, sometimes I do write data to it. Due to few data corruption issues that I had in the past, I check partitions manually in Windows (randomly) to make sure that their integrity is not spoiled.
In older versions of Windows (7, Vista, XP, 2000 etc), if a certain partition is accessed by a program, then you first have to close it, before you can run the disk check. And you can never check the integrity of the partition where Windows is installed, from the desktop. If you try to do it, then the OS will ask you to schedule a disk check instead, that will be carried out the next time the OS boots.
So just to see whether Windows 8 lives up to its promises, I just tried to check the Windows 8 partition (‘C:’), and guess what? Windows started to check the partition right away!.
Then out of curiosity, I started to copy a file from my ‘D:’ drive to the Windows 8’s desktop and then tried running the disk check at the same time. And even after doing all that, as you can see from the screenshot, Windows 8 still ran the disk check, impressive!!.
This actually, among many other improvements, is implemented thanks to the new NTFS health model, if I’m not mistaken. If interested, you can follow that URL to know more about it. Yup, end of bragging ;-).