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Introducing APFS, Apple’s New File System

Apple’s new file system, simply called Apple File System (APFS) is just one of the recent announcements that the giant company has made. This brand new system focuses on security, offering a unified encryption method for every Apple device.

The base of Apple’s New File System lies in security and privacy. APFS combines former encryption methods into a unified model. Users can choose from different encryption models: no encryption, single-key encryption, and multi-key encryption. By choosing multi-key encryption you ensure data integrity when its physical security is at risk. Depending on hardware, the new file system uses AES-XTS or AES-CBC.

 Apple’s New File System

This modern file system is developed to work on iOS, OS X, tvOS, and watchOS. Optimized for Flash/SSD storage, it comes with many highlights:

  • Strong encryption
  • Space sharing – meaning multiple file system can share the same free space on a physical volume.
  • Copy-on-write metadata
  • Cloning for files and directories – a copy of a file or directory occupies no extra space for file data. The system can hold multiple revisions of the same document while saving storage space.
  • Fast directory sizing
  • Atomic safe-save primitives, and more.

Another addition is Snapshots. Don’t get confused; they’re only snapshots of a full volume. The operating system uses these snapshots to make backups more efficient, also offering a way to revert changes to a certain point in time. The feature is similar to Microsoft’s shadow copies.

APFS is currently only available to developers for preview. It is set to launch for overall use in 2017. The file system is case-sensitive at the moment. To use APFS at the moment means doing so on a non-startup volume. Apple suggests users to test the new file system on an external volume containing non-important data.

The company has also outlined the current limitation of its new development, listing that the system’s volumes cannot be used as a startup disk, the case sensitivity issue, the fact that time machine backups are not supported, the unavailable FileVault encryption, and the fact that Fusion Drives cannot use Apple’s new file system.

Open source implementation is not yet available. The company intends to document and publish the Apple File System volume format when the system is officially released next year, in 2017.


About Sergio Wallache

The young-turk of the team, he is responsible for reporting all the rumors and leaks related to gadgets and software. Other than collecting valuable information on trending rumors, he also likes to write about social media and IT security.

One comment

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