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Have been using NTFS data drive on Ubuntu 16.04 for 6 months or so. Works fine. Should I reformat for Linux? I'm not using Windows anymore.

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  • Any reason to change? You're in a stable situation, I don't see what you'll gain from reformatting,
    – muru
    Jan 1, 2017 at 19:10
  • What happens when you need to use that with windows again ? Jan 1, 2017 at 19:13

2 Answers 2

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Linux works better with a linux drive,

  • it is faster

  • you can set ownership and permissions individually for directories and files

I was in the same situation some years ago, and I changed my data partition from NTFS to ext3. Today I would change it to the ext4 file system.

-o-

Edit: I tested again, this time in a small system, installed from the Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS amd64 iso file and not updated at all only installed into my Toshiba laptop with an SSD connected via USB 3. I created two target partitions, one 'ext4' and one 'ntfs' on the same SSD, and I copied the Ubuntu system on the root partition to these two target partitions (using rsync, so at the file level). I did it twice (and removed all files and directories between the copying). The results were quite similar between the first and second copying test.

I show the result from the second test here, and can confirm that the write speed is more than a factor 2 higher to the ext4 partition compared to the ntfs partition, total time=

  • 1 min 06.35 sec writing to ext4
  • 2 min 31.57 sec writing to ntfs

    $ cat /media/tester/ext4/time-used 
    21.74user 14.54system 1:06.35elapsed 54%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 49788maxresident)k
    7177888inputs+7351192outputs (5major+30376minor)pagefaults 0swaps
    
    $ cat /media/tester/ntfs/time-used 
    22.70user 45.40system 2:31.57elapsed 44%CPU (0avgtext+0avgdata 56712maxresident)k
    7178480inputs+0outputs (5major+30496minor)pagefaults 0swaps
    

enter image description here

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  • Do you have benchmarks for the "it is faster" claim?
    – muru
    Jan 2, 2017 at 6:10
  • No official benchmarks, but I tested, before I decided to change from NTFS to ext3, and if I remember correctly the speed increased by more than a factor 2. That could be have changed now, if the current linux drivers for NTFS are better than those used when I did the test.
    – sudodus
    Jan 2, 2017 at 6:27
  • The factor 2 is still valid. See the details in the edited answer. Please run a corresponding test in your computer, if you have the time.
    – sudodus
    Jan 2, 2017 at 14:15
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There is a nice one page write up on this question here (PC Wolrd - Ext4 vs NTFS) on day 16 of a 30-day diary learning Linux.

Ext4 advantages:

  • In addition to being faster, Ext4 has greater support for larger files and has less fragmentation.
  • Using checksums for drive journaling improves reliability and improves performance.
  • When it comes to file checking, EXT4 is quicker because unallocated blocks of data are marked as such and are simply skipped during disk check operations.

In addition to this article others have pointed out how NTFS requires extras drivers that are non-native to Linux / Ubuntu.

The article does mention some benefits of a Windows drive that might effect you so I suggest reading it.

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    Remember that the Windows (tm) specification of NTFS is NOT a public document. Therefore any Linux NTFS utility has to make guesses about NTFS behavior. They're pretty good guesses, but nowhere near as good as ext4 utilities written with full knowledge of ext4. Secret Source Software vs Open Source Software.
    – waltinator
    Jan 1, 2017 at 22:53

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