Difference between Btrfs and Ext4

By Jaxson

Main Difference

Ext4 is the winner despite identical performance. Why? Convenience and ubiquity. Ext4 is still an excellent file system for desktop/workstation use. Btrfs might offer greater volumes (up to 16 EB) and improved fault tolerance, but, at the moment, it feels more like an add-on file system rather than one integrated into Linux. Data duplication is not allowed in Ext4 whereas in Btrfs it is still in process.


Btrfs, which can be pronounced as “Butter FS”, “Better FS”, or “B-Tree FS”, is a file system made completely from scratch. Btrfs exists because the developers wanted to expand the functionality of a file system to include pooling, snapshots, and check-sums among other things.


Ext4 is the evolution of the most used Linux file system, Ext3. In many ways, Ext4 is a deeper improvement over Ext3 than Ext3 was over Ext2. Ext3 was mostly about adding journaling to Ext2, but Ext4 modifies important data structures of the file system such as the ones destined to store the file data. The result is a filesystem with an improved design, better performance, reliability, and features.

Key Differences

  • Ext4 seems to be the better choice on a desktop system since it is already present as a default file system, and it is slightly faster than Btrfs when transferring files.
  • Btrfs is definitely worth looking into, but a complete switch to replace Ext4 on desktop Linux might be a few years away.
  • Btrfs has many good features. Copy-on-Write, snapshots, extensive checksums, scrubbing, duplication, self-healing data, and many more useful improvements ensure data integrity. Btrfs lacks the RAID-Z features of ZFS, so RAID is still in the experimental state with Btrfs. However, for pure data storage, Btrfs is the winner over Ext4, but time will tell.
  • Btrfs were developed by Oracle Corporation, Fujitsu and Red Ha. Ext4 were developed by Mingming Cao, Andreas Dilger, Alex Zhuravlev (Tomas), Dave Kleikamp, Theodore Ts’o, Eric Sandeen, Sam Naghshineh and others.
  • Ext4 means Fourth extended file system whereas Btrfs mean Btree file system.
  • Btrfs have Linux supported operating system whereas Ext4 has Linux and FreeBSD.
  • Data duplication is not allowed in Ext4 whereas in Btrfs it is still in process.
  • Btrfs were introduced on 29 july 2013 whereas Ext4 were introduced on 21 october 2008.

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