Ext4 vs. XFS – Which Filesystem Should You Use

The Linux operating system supports multiple file systems, including EXT4, btrfs, XFS, and others. The file system is used to manage the data, such as writing data to disk and retrieving data from hard disk. If you are looking for the file system which should use between ext4 and XFS. Then this article will explain their differences and use case scenarios in detail.

Ext4 File System

The ext4 file system is an updated version of the basic ext file system ext1, ext2, ext3. The ext4 file system is based on the Journal file system, which keeps track of the hard disk files and modifies the disk data as a Journal. The ext4 is an old file system that is the default in several Linux distributions, such as Ubuntu.

The ext4 file system mainly enhances the efficiency, reliability, and performance of the Linux Kernel. This ext4 system has been in use for many years, so it is much improved from previous extensions and has greater bug removal support.

XFS File System

The XFS file system was developed in 1993 to improve the high performance of 64-bit Journey-based file systems. It controls the larger file systems and servers quite easily due to its parallel I/O Input/Output working. The parallel design of the XFS file system utilizes group allocation to divide large files data into multiple small data files to work efficiently.

The RHEL Linux distributions come with an XFS file system by default. The XFS efficiently scales larger files to store them, which is used in larger CPUs and workstations. The XFS file system maintains the Journal of the ongoing operations, which can be retrieved in case of sudden shutdown.

What are the Differences Between Ext4 and XFS?

Let’s discuss the differences between ext4 and XFS file systems:

Maximum FilesThe ext4 can create up to 232 files, equal to 4 billion.The XFS can create up to 264 files, equal to 18 Quintillion files.
Partition SizeIt supports partition sizes up to 16TiB (1 EiB), which is 8 times less than the btrfs.It can create a partition of a maximum of 8 EiB.
Concurrent OperationsIt handles fewer currently running programs than XFS.It can handle more currently running operations than the ext4 file system.
Storage ScalabilityIt does not support the scalability of files.It can scale larger files to small allocation groups to store them easily using B-tree indexing phenomena.
Data Retrieval/Metadata JournalingIt does not support data retrieval.The XFS can retrieve the modified data operation (metadata) if the data is not saved. This file system has built-in xfsdump and xfsrestore tools to restore data.
Online DefragmentationThe ext4 file system does not support data defragmentation.The XFS provides the mounted (active) file defragmentation to a larger file.
Delayed AllocationDelayed allocation is not supported.The file allocation can be delayed to avoid file fragmentation. The lazy evaluation method allows the user to delay allocation.
Extended Attributes SupportExtended attributes is not supported in ext4.The key-value pairs can be associated with the file to extend the attributes support to that file, such as adding the display icon.

Which File System Should You Use?

Let’s discuss scenarios where you should use an Ext4 or XFS file system.

Larger Servers & Greater File Size: In this case, the XFS is more efficient where the average file size is greater (ranging in hundreds of Megabytes).

Greater I/O Workload: If your I/O workload is greater, the ext4 file system would be the preferred choice due to its greater transferring files speed.

Lesser CPU Usage: If your CPU resources are less, you can use the ext4 file system because the XFS consumes double the CPU per metadata than the ext4.


The major difference between ext4 and XFS file systems is that the ext4 file system works better for fewer size files (single write/read thread) while the XFS works more efficiently for larger files (multiple read/write threads). The XFS supports more file sizes and greater file or partition sizes. Moreover, the ext4 is more beneficial when the I/O workload is greater and if the CPU resources are less.