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The purpose of this article is to help you choose the right filesystem for your data’s integrity and performance by comparing Btrfs and ZFS.

Btrfs offers built-in RAID and snapshot support, while ZFS has robust data repair features and high storage capacity. It is recommended that you choose Btrfs for flexibility, or ZFS for large scale data storage.

Comparison of BTRFS and ZFS

As part of this side-by-side comparison, we will first examine exactly what Btrfs and ZFS are.

Btrfs Filesystem Explanation

Btrfs is a modern file system designed for Linux that prioritizes data integrity, fault tolerance, and ease of administration. With features such as snapshots, built-in RAID, and copy-on-write, Btrfs is an efficient and versatile storage system.

A few of the key features of Btrfs, which has been part of the Linux kernel since 2009, are:

  • Snapshots with copy-on-write (CoW)
  • Support for RAID built-in
  • Defragmentation online
  • Deduplication of data (experimental)

There are a number of NAS operating systems that support Btrfs (such as Unraid or Synology DSM, shown below).

This highly scalable file system was originally developed by Sun Microsystems (now owned by Oracle) for the Solaris operating system. It is known for its data integrity, protection features, and massive capacity.

For large-scale data storage and management, ZFS includes built-in RAID, data compression, deduplication, and snapshots.

In addition to FreeBSD and Linux, ZFS has been ported to other platforms through the OpenZFS project. ZFS is widely used and one of the best filesystems due to features such as:

  • Snapshots with copy-on-write (CoW)
  • Data integrity checks from beginning to end
  • Support for RAID built-in
  • Compression and deduplication of data

The most popular platforms for running ZFS are TrueNAS Core and TrueNAS Scale, but it’s also supported on Proxmox, Unraid (support is coming soon), and many others.

Comparing BTRFS and ZFS

Here are some key differences between Btrfs and ZFS.

Integrity of data

In terms of data integrity, ZFS has a slight advantage over Btrfs. With its end-to-end checksums, ZFS detects and repairs any data corruption automatically. Btrfs, on the other hand, supports data checksums, but it does not offer the same level of automated repairs.

Although Btrfs isn’t capable of automatic repair (and using a Synology NAS as an example), you can use a data-scrubbing process to repair data integrity issues.

Support for RAID

Despite offering built-in RAID support, Btrfs and ZFS differ in their implementations. Btrfs supports RAID 0, 1, 10, 5, and 6, while ZFS supports RAID-Z (RAID-Z2, and RAID-Z3).

RAID 5 and 6 can be compared to RAID Z and RAID-Z2, but RAID-Z3 does not have a similar option for the Btrfs filesystem.


  1. Single 1 RAID-5 RAID-Z
  2. Double 2 RAID 6 RAID-Z2
  3. RAID-Z3 Triple 3 N/A
Clones and snapshots

It is important to note that Btrfs and ZFS both support snapshots and cloning. They both use a copy-on-write (CoW) approach, allowing for fast and efficient snapshots.

With Btrfs, you can create writable snapshots, giving you greater flexibility.

The performance of

Generally, ZFS is known for its superior performance in large-scale storage environments, while Btrfs is known for its superior performance in smaller-scale environments. Obviously, this is not always the case, so you should test both filesystems in your specific environment to determine which one performs better.

The Best Filesystem for Your Needs: BTRFS vs. ZFS

Ultimately, the choice comes down to your requirements and preferences. Here are some factors to consider:

Compatibility with operating systems

Since it’s part of the kernel, Btrfs is the more “native” choice for Linux users, since Linux distributions generally support it better.

Although ZFS is available on Linux through the OpenZFS project, it may require extra steps to set up and maintain.


Utilization of resources and scalability

Generally, ZFS is the go-to choice for large-scale deployments and enterprise environments due to its robustness and proven reliability.

While ZFS can be resource-intensive, particularly when it comes to RAM usage, Btrfs is more lightweight and can be a better fit for smaller systems.


Management and ease of use

For users familiar with Linux tools and conventions, Btrfs has the advantage of being more tightly integrated with the operating system.

In spite of the fact that ZFS is still manageable on Linux, it might have a steeper learning curve for those who are unfamiliar with its features and management tools.

Support and development of the community

The OpenZFS project focuses primarily on stability and platform compatibility, while Btrfs development within the Linux kernel emphasizes new features and improvements.

You may prefer one filesystem over another depending on your priorities (either stability or new features).


The best choice for you will depend on your unique needs and preferences, and we examined the key differences between Btrfs and ZFS, but there isn’t necessarily a correct answer.ZFS excels in large-scale deployments and offers great reliability, while BTRFS is a Linux-native option that offers tight integration and ease of use.


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