Buh-bye HFS+, hello APFS (Apple File System) for macOS!

“Nine years ago I was pleased to see that Apple was starting to integrate the state-of-the-art ZFS file system into Snow Leopard Server. Even then the HFS+ file system, whose roots go back to file systems from the 60s, was a buggy mess,” Robin Harris reports for ZDNet. “But Mac ZFS never happened.”

“This month Apple introduced the bones of a new file system to its developers,” Harris reports. “The documentation says a 2017 release is planned, which means it won’t become fully supported until after MacOS 10.12.1. But the MacOS’s UNIX core is designed to make it easy to slide in new file systems, so APFS could become an option under later versions of Sierra.”

“But after a nine year wait, I’m glad to see that Apple is moving the foundation of our data into the 21st century,” Harris reports. “They’ve been far behind Windows for years now, and relief is on the way. Pro users, rejoice!”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: Hopefully APFS development proceeds apace. We’d love to see it appear (likely as a non-critical choice to start) in macOS Sierra 10.12.x!

SEE ALSO:
Apple can do better than Sun’s ZFS – October 26, 2009
Apple discontinues ZFS project, turns attention to own next-gen file system – October 24, 2009
Apple’s Mac OS X Snow Leopard Server’s ZFS goes MIA – June 9, 2009

24 Comments

    1. The article says “But after a nine year wait, I’m glad to see that Apple is moving the foundation of our data into the 21st century. They’ve been far behind Windows for years now, and relief is on the way. Pro users, rejoice!”

      Windows has had this system for years???? I thought they still had the registry!!! You know, that buggy thing that keeps crashing systems after a year or two unless you flush everything and reload Windows 7,8,10 every year or two ?????

  1. I understand that HFS+ is ancient, etc., but what are the problems that APFS will fix? What other improvements does APFS offer? How will it help “pro” users?

      1. For users there will be no difference. Currest HFS+ provides every functionality that users would want.

        But for software engineers it is obvious that HFS+ is too old, overblown with clunky add-ons and extensions, it is neither elegant, nor robust foundation for an OS.

        1. “For users there will be no difference. Currest HFS+ provides every functionality that users would want.”

          That’s not true at all. We should expect faster overall performance, much faster Time Machine, better reliability, better dealing with drives that get unplugged while in use, case-sensitive file names (HFS+ doesn’t do this properly), faster directory listings (especially when dealing with sub-directories and packages with file sizes being shown), space sharing (ability to have a volume span and grow across multiple drives added at any time, cloning (allowing for better/faster versioning), and more…

          Now a lot of this may be for “power” users, but all users will see some of the benefits.

          1. Again: users do not experience any of those issues you listed. Their Macintoshes/iPhones are fast, their Time Machine shows no lags, they do not lose their files, and so on — even for power users, I have not heard any complaints on those.

            The real advantage will go to developers/software engineers.

            1. I wasn’t complaining about the speed of hard drives on my Mac . . . until I installed a 1TB SSD on my MacBook Pro.

              I am NEVER going back!

              Hard drives are still good for inexpensive file storage backups, but I will never “work” on a hard drive again.

              The point is that I didn’t realize how slow the old technology as until I started using the new tech. I don’t expect APFS to be as dramatic as SSD are, but the speed and reliability will be appreciated as our data gets bigger, and more important.

            2. I don’t think you realize exactly how much faster and more reliable things will be with APFS.

              Your comment that I was correcting was:
              For users there will be no difference. Currest HFS+ provides every functionality that users would want.

              Now maybe you’ve never wanted a faster computer. Maybe you’ve never wanted better encryption options. Maybe you’ve never experience data corruption or loss. Maybe you’ve never had the cable of a hard drive get unplugged while writing to it. Maybe you’ve never had to wait a long time for a very large file to transfer when it could’ve been instantly transferred (if was just a minor change). Maybe you’ve never had duplicate files on your drive taking up extra space. Maybe you’ve needed to deal with the convoluted way that OS X deals with aliases and symbolic links. Maybe you’ve never had to wait while your system calculated the sizes of every folder package in a large directory. Maybe you’ve never wanted to increase the size of a volume simply by plugging in another drive… I could go on and on, but the point is, these have nothing to do with developers/software engineers and everything to do with end user functionality and experience.

              Even many of the things that benefit developers end up indirectly benefiting the end user (like proper versioning).

              Again, not all of these things are for every user. Casual users won’t notice or appreciate much of this. However, even they will experience some of the benefits in terms of general speed, reliability, encryption and storage space efficiency.

              BTW: You might want to read the article. It’s not a very extensive article, but does cover some of the benefits to end users.

      1. HFS+ is an extension of HFS which came out in 1985.

        That’s why it’s considered older even though HFS+ shipped in 98 and NTFS first showed up in 93′

  2. Sounds much like ZFS. It’s about time. File systems are how computers work for people, Apple has been frozen on this since OS X launched. Hope they find a way to extend it to the boot volume, or barring that, ship it with a migration tool that repartitions a hard drive and makes migrating the profile with music documents and pictures to the non boot volume. In its way, clunky Microsoft already does this in win 10.

    As always, Apple can and will do it better.

    1. ” Hope they find a way to extend it to the boot volume”

      That should be easy. It’s purposely not being allowed on boot volumes while in early beta. It’s fully intended for the boot volume in later betas.

  3. Better late than never.

    Apple initially had ZFS replacing HFS+ but left it out of Snow Leopard at the last minute after a clutch of licensing and support issues sprouted. Since that time, I think a sheltered team has been quietly working on APFS. Like Swift, it was a geeky in-house project immune to leaks and of zero interest to the jackals in the mainstream media. Crucially, it fits Steve Jobs’s professed philosophy of controlling all the key technologies.

    http://arstechnica.com/apple/2016/06/digging-into-the-dev-documentation-for-apfs-apples-new-file-system/

    (Thanks Mike)

  4. Ah, a place to post links about APFS!

    First note that Apple has a presentation about APFS this afternoon at WWDC:

    Introducing Apple File System
    System Frameworks | 701

    The Apple File System (APFS) is the next-generation file system designed to scale from an Apple Watch to a Mac Pro. APFS is optimized for Flash/SSD storage, and engineered with encryption as a primary feature. Learn about APFS benefits versus HFS+ and how to make sure your file system code is compatible.

    Tuesday, June 14, 1:00 PM–1:40 PM
    Nob Hill

    AND… Apple has provided online a site for techy details about APFS:

    Apple File System Guide

    The site above will be updated as the APFS project proceeds. So keep an eye out!

    As I blethered on at the MDN article “Time to upgrade your Mac? These Macs can run macOS Sierra”, APFS promises to at long bloody last bring to Macs many long awaited features of the ZFS file system, Apple attempted and failed to bring to Macs in 2008. Developers were provided with a Preview of APFS along with the 10.12 Sierra beta. APFS is not yet ready for prime time. Hopefully it will be finished and ready for macOS in 2017.

    1. “The Apple File System (APFS) is the next-generation file system designed to scale from an Apple Watch to a Mac Pro.”

      Hey Derek… Does this mean APFS will also be used on iOS devices?

  5. I agree that its time for the file system of the future… but remeber this:
    Obviously HFS has not been too shabby, and has proved itself much more than simply adequate by serving admirably over the last decade or more, as IBM’s Big IRON UNIX file structure. I am a mainframe system programmer and can state honestly that Apple’s HFS has been the file system used in IBM’s mainframe UNIX environment without any real issues, in fact its only now, with their latest OS, z/OS 2.2 that IBM is forcing the move away from hFS to zFS…, so yes, it’s nice to have an update to an ole standby, but believing that it is somehow useless and error prone is simply not true. hFS is dead! Long live APFS!

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