APFS: The New File System For Your IPhone And Mac

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APFS: The New File System For Your IPhone And Mac
APFS: The New File System For Your IPhone And Mac

Video: APFS: The New File System For Your IPhone And Mac

Video: APFS: The New File System For Your IPhone And Mac
Video: File System Explained: APFS, MacOS Extended, FAT, exFAT and More 2023, September

APFS stands for Apple File System. It is a file system, the replacement of HFS +, and therefore takes care of the data organization on the storage. APFS should not only be used on Macs, but also on iOS devices up to the Apple Watch. It runs under:

  • macOS
  • iOS
  • watchOS
  • tvOS

HFS + no longer considers Apple to be up to date - the file system was developed 30 years ago when the data was on floppies and HDDs. It was time to adjust HFS +. Due to possible compatibility problems, the developers at Apple decided to switch to a new system. The upcoming Apple File System will replace HFS + as the standard system drive - and can of course also be used for external hard drives or USB sticks.

Apple presented APFS at WWDC 2016, both briefly in the keynote and in more detail in a developer session. With iOS 10.3, the system will probably be introduced for the first time on devices, i.e. on iPhone and iPad.

Also interesting: buy MacBooks and Macs now or wait?


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Advantages of the Apple File System

Apple wanted to create a flexible and dynamic system that can be used equally on all devices. Starting with the small memory of the Apple Watch up to the Mac Pro. There are currently several versions and technologies of HFS (including iOS adaptation, fusion drive control, etc.). With APFS, Apple brings it all together.

The company also rearranges the encryption of the data (AES-XTS, AES-CBC) with APFS across all platforms. On the one hand, comprehensive data backup can be used. In addition to the key for an entire volume, multi-key encryption is also possible. The files are individually protected and the metadata is bundled across them. To support the cloning of files, areas within a file can be given their own key.

SSDs on Amazon

Other special features:

  • APFS accommodates the storage properties of flash and SSDs, including TRIM support, it is optimized for modern drive types. It is also possible to use HDDs.
  • According to Apple, data is even better protected in the event of crashes, power failures, etc.
  • Volumes can be resized, logical drives are flexible.
  • APFS supports clones for which only the directory entry and changes are written. This is faster than conventional copying and saves storage space - Photoshop Lightroom users can compare it to how “virtual copies” work.
  • With snapshots one can jump back to an earlier storage, to an earlier system state. The snapshots are read-only copies that only require storage space when the original data changes, because they then log the changes. It makes sense to use such a "backup", for example when changing the system.
  • In addition, APFS is characterized by low latencies, fast display of memory consumption, expansion options for the system, 64 bits, time stamps of 1 nanosecond and more.

21.5-inch iMac with 4K display

Disadvantages of APFS

OS X Yosemite and earlier systems cannot do anything with APFS drives. If you also use these OS-X versions, you should continue to use HFS + for external drives. Of course, even Windows computers cannot read anything from the APFS-formatted memories. For the other Apple operating systems (iOS etc.), these restrictions should not pose any problems in practice.

Snapshots and clones can at least lead to irritation. If you delete files after a snapshot, the storage space does not become empty - because the files are still required by the backup. In addition: If a file is defective, the clone or snapshot is of no use either, since they access the original file. It is currently still unknown how Apple actually uses snapshots.

However, experts are primarily concerned with integrity and reliability. It is doubted that the system can keep up with ZFS in this area. Among other things, Apple presumably does without checksums that track file errors. Apple in turn emphasizes the high level of crash safety. It is not yet known exactly how data integrity is ensured as well as possible.

This is how Apple introduces APFS

Developers can already test APFS - but with drastic restrictions. This year, however, the new system will be available on Apple devices. For iOS, delivery should start with iOS 10.3.

It is currently not known whether APFS on Macs will replace HFS + with a new macOS in the fall or earlier with a smaller update. Apple wants to implement the changeover during operation: APFS uses the free space on the drive for the conversion. It is therefore not necessary to take a backup, reformat the internal drives and then upload everything again.

And another side note that Apple already announced at WWDC 2016: In the future, users should rely on SMB instead of AFP for network integrations.