How to choose appropriate filesystem for my KVM VPS guest?

MountainX asked:

I’m going to manually install Arch Linux from an ISO image on a KVM VPS that uses SeaBIOS. I plan to use grub2 as the bootloader.

My VPS will not hold important data that needs to be backed up. I don’t need snapshots. If it has a failure that wipes out all data on disk, I’ll just reinstall it. The applications are not disk I/O intensive. Most activity is network-related. I would like a lightweight filesystem.

The VPS provider advertises SSD storage (but I don’t know for sure that my VPS is on SSD hardware).

What are the considerations I should keep in mind for picking the right file system? I’m going to guess I probably don’t need a journaling filesystem. (I do want a file system that is in the Linux kernel.) What are the top choices I should consider in my situation?

I have not done the VPS installation yet, but I believe the file system choices will include btrfs, vfat, ext2, ext3, ext4, xfs, reiserfs, and probably more. In fact, unless the KVM virtualization environment imposes limitations, I should have available all the filesystems listed here:

File systems – ArchWiki

My answer:


A journal won’t hurt you and can only help. These days I even use a journaling filesystem for /boot.

Your two main contenders are ext4 and XFS. It’s not worth worrying about ext3 or ext2; these are effectively obsolete. ReiserFS (which is version 3) is also effectively obsolete and its successor Reiser4 is unlikely to ever be added to Linux.

Either XFS or ext4 will serve you well, though XFS can handle much larger directories and much larger filesystem sizes. I currently create XFS partitions, as well as XFS /boot partitions (or ext4 /boot partitions on slightly older distros like CentOS 7).

I wouldn’t bother with btrfs for a VM. It just introduces too much complexity. You might consider it for the hypervisor, a storage server, your laptop, etc., but for a simple VM it’s usually overkill.


View the full question and answer on Server Fault.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.