File Systems Performance Comparison

Abundant performance delivered by today's quad-core processors has shifted the performance bottleneck from the CPU and memory to the disk I/O subsystem in most of day-to-day usage scenarios. In order to optimize system's responsiveness, performance-hungry computer enthusiasts carefully selecting top-notch, 10K RPM mechanical drives and stunningly fast SSD disks. But, what about the operating system? Which one of the modern operating systems is capable of utilizing fast hard drives and multi-core CPUs most effectively?

In order to answer the question, we have performed a variety of file management operations such as file search, file classification, storage utilization analysis, duplicate files search, file copy, file synchronization and file delete on Windows 7 (64-Bit), Windows XP (64-Bit) and Ubuntu Linux 9.04 (64-Bit). All tests were performed using the DiskBoss File and Disk Manager (64-Bit) on a host computer equipped with a Q9650 quad-core CPU, 4GB of system memory and a pair of 10K RPM WD Raptor hard disks.

It is a well known fact that the performance of file operations greatly depends on the amount and size of processed files. In order to accurately calculate average file system performance, we have prepared a mixed 15 GB file set containing 100K files including about 75K small files, 24K medium-sized files and 1K large files. All operating systems were tested using exactly the same file set and on the same hardware platform. Finally, in order to minimize the impact of the file system cache, the test computer was restarted before each test.

From the beginning, we were surprised to discover that actually the 8-years-old Windows XP is faster than the brand new Windows 7 in all tested file management operations. The difference was not so big in duplicate files search and file copy/sync operations, but file search, classification and storage utilization analysis operations are working much faster on Windows XP than Windows 7.

The real surprise was the performance delivered by Ubuntu 9.04 (64-Bit). In all file search, classification and storage utilization analysis operations Ubuntu is faster than both tested Windows operating systems by a huge margin. Initially, it was hard to believe that the difference between operating systems running on the same hardware platform may be so large, but after tens of tests we have got to the conclusion that such a big difference in the file system performance may be attributed to the EXT3 file system used in Ubuntu.

The performance of duplicate file search operations was almost identical for all operating systems with Windows XP achieving the best performance, followed by Ubuntu with a slightly slower result and finally Windows 7 with the slowest result. Yes, Windows 7 is very promising and it supposed to be faster than Windows XP, but the benchmark results we have got prove that actually Windows XP is faster than Windows 7.


The performance advantage of the EXT3 file system used in Ubuntu Linux may be very significant when processing large amounts of small to medium-sized files and computer users and IT professionals constantly working with large amounts data should seriously consider using Ubuntu Linux as the main file and data management platform.

* This performance review has been prepared for information purposes only and we strongly advise you to make your own performance evaluations using your specific hardware components and datasets.