What is the Apple File System

Apple file system explained
Apple file system explained

When you upgrade your iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or iPod to iOS 10.3, your device will automatically start using the Apple File System, or the APFS.

If you are wondering what is a file system, you may already have been using some sort of file system in Windows, and even in Linux. In Windows you often come across expressions like “NTFS” and “FAT32” and in Linux, if you have ever tried to install something like Ubuntu, “ext3” and “ext4”. For Apple operating systems such as iOS and Mac OS it has been HFS+.

It’s the way how operating systems create, maintain and organize different files on your mobile device or computer hard disk. Remember when your file names couldn’t be more than eight characters? It was long time back and many of you won’t even know about it or have totally forgotten about it but there was a time when the name of the file couldn’t exceed eight characters and there couldn’t be any spaces in between. The file name extension couldn’t be more than three characters.

The benefit of switching over to the new Apple File System

Currently Apple is using different file formats and file systems for Mac OS, iOS, tvOS and the operating system for Apple Watch. With Apple File System, a single file system will be implemented across the devices. No matter which Apple product you are using, you will be creating and maintaining files using the Apple File System or APFS.

The new filesystem will be optimized first of all for flash and solid-state storage devices that are being used with almost all Apple products. The old HFS+ system on the other hand was optimized for storing large files on multiple drives.

With many advancements being made in the encryption technology, the new Apple File System will be able to handle file encryption in a much better way.

The existing HFS+ uses 32-bit file IDs to name the file but the new APFS will be supporting 64-bit inode numbers. To a casual user it won’t mean much, but in the long run, you will be able to save 9 quintillion files on a single volume provided you have got that much space.

The current system supports timestamps on second-basis but the new Apple File System will be able to use timestamps on nanosecond basis.

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About Amrit Hallan
Amrit Hallan is the founder of TechBakBak.com. He writes about technology not because "he loves to write about technology", he actually believes that it makes the world a better place. On Twitter you can follow him at @amrithallan

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