External SSD/HDD filesystem type?

What filesystem type should an external hard drive have? The root partition uses brtfs. However, ext4 will probably work better for HDDs and works for SSDs as well.

Should the hard drive filesystem type be brtfs, ext4 or something entirely different?

I’m using ext4.

I understand with btrfs, there is some way to extend the subvolume to include both disks for snapshotting. But I didn’t really have a need for this.

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Michael Larabel from Phoronix does regular benchmarks of different filesystem types:

According to the benchmarks Ext4 is still the best mainstream option. Btrfs is usually the slowest.

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Most file system should be supported. In particular, we will in future test for and try to support sharing and storage on NTFS and FAT filesystems due to their popularity.

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I’d go for btrfs, but look out for the particular caveats in its wiki, like

I think recent btrfs is also fine for SSD (but using daily fstrim, instead of a mount -o discard), what’s the issue you had in mind?

Where requiring the speed of legacy filesystems, mount a filesystem with -o nodatasum (disables checksumming) or even nodatacow (with crash risks).
However, database files and vm disk images always require: chattr -C (nodatacow on dir applied before image file creation!), qcow2: cluster_size=8K (but they may bring their own checksum, atomicy, and snapshots)

The best benefit is the possibility to make instant snapshots and being able to very efficiently send/receive them over to other (eg. backup or peer) machines with btrfs in no-time.
(Think desktop <–> NAS <–> laptop/mobile, especially!)

But keep number of snapshots as low as reasonable, to avoid performance issues.


This seems to say btrfs has crash-risk safety whereas ext still has a remaining risk:

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Does this mean that NTFS- and FAT-based drives aren’t supported? I connected an SSD formatted to EXFAT, but it’s not being recognized by the Freedombox. It used to be formatted with APFS, and was recognized then, but I wiped it and formatted it to EXFAT so I could use it with Windows and Mac (to make adding media easier for me).

I checked if Debian supports EXFAT, and it does. I followed steps to install exfat-fuse and exfat-utils, but the terminal said they were already installed. I’m not sure what’s going on.

Any insight you can provide would be helpful.

  • FreedomBox is plugged into a router at home
  • Pretty sure I bought it sometime last year.
  • I’m running Debian GNU/Linux 10 (buster) and FreedomBox version 20.12.1. FreedomBox is up to date.