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Data Storage Apple Technology

APFS Is Not Optional (apple.com) 330

From a new Apple knowledge base article: When you upgrade to macOS High Sierra, systems with all flash storage configurations are converted automatically. Systems with hard disk drives (HDD) and Fusion drives won't be converted to APFS. You can't opt-out of the transition to APFS.
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APFS Is Not Optional

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  • by Kargan ( 250092 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @09:47AM (#55110115) Homepage

    Was this approved accidentally...?

    • This abomination of a summary is as bad as I've seen in my time here.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      whipslash, if you still come around this site, could you please do something about msmash?

      This submission should be considered totally unacceptable for the front page. The topic matter is interesting and very relevant, but the summary itself is beyond atrocious. As you can see, it is completely lacking any and all context. I can't see how any editor would look at this submission and think it's anything but garbage. Yet apparently msmash considered it good enough to put on the front page of this site!

      This is

    • Phrases such as "Devices formatted as HFS+ can be read and written to by devices formatted as APFS." do not inspire confidence in comunication.

  • Ok... and? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Kenja ( 541830 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @09:49AM (#55110131)
    Someone able to explain why this is bad... or good... or whatever the point of this posting is?
    • Re:Ok... and? (Score:4, Informative)

      by cheesybagel ( 670288 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @09:52AM (#55110157)

      I had to read some more to actually understand WTF this was about. It seems this APFS is some new, flash device optimized, encrypted filesystem for Apple products that is supposed to replace the incredibly crappy HFS+.

      • by TWX ( 665546 )

        The way the summary is written, most readers might be concerned that this affects USB flash drives.

      • Linus agrees with me. From the Wikipedia page for HFS+:
        HFS Plus lacks several features considered staples of modern file systems like ZFS and NTFS. Data checksums is the most routinely cited missing feature. Additionally, the core of the filesystem uses case-insensitive NFD Unicode strings, which led Linus Torvalds to say that "HFS+ is probably the worst file-system ever."

        • by Arkham ( 10779 )
          Linus Torvalds is probably the worst at hyperbole ever.
      • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

        the incredibly crappy HFS+

        Is HFS+ really all that crappy? I recognize that HFS+ is ancient technology (by computing standards) and doesn't support a lot of new features, but OTOH for me it has always done its job and not caused me any problems -- my files are always where I left them in the morning.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          the incredibly crappy HFS+

          Is HFS+ really all that crappy? I recognize that HFS+ is ancient technology (by computing standards) and doesn't support a lot of new features, but OTOH for me it has always done its job and not caused me any problems -- my files are always where I left them in the morning.

          Exactly.

          I have been using Macs since they were called Lisas, and in all those years, the only time I have had HFS or HFS+ lose or corrupt a byte of data was when a hard drive went suddenly and catastrophically, south. Maybe a ZFS pool would have not lost any data; but this was before that time.

          HFS+ may not be the snazziest FS; but it is reliable as the day is long.

      • Re:Ok... and? (Score:5, Informative)

        by infolation ( 840436 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @02:21PM (#55112313)
        This is a guess... I haven't seen this written about anywhere...

        It seems APFS is automatic on flash storage, but not on spinning disks for reasons relating to the security of data-deletion.

        Flash storage without strong encryption is insecure - since the Flash Translation Layer abstracts the Logical Block Address from the Physical Block Address for wear-levelling purposes, and the drive includes a pool of additional storage space that cannot be accessed directly. Therefore secure file deletion is not possible - files cannot be securely overwritten.

        In the past, Apple have withdrawn 'secure delete' (overwriting deleted files) from their operating systems for this reason.

        Full disk encryption sidesteps this issue since destroying the key that encrypted the file prevents the file from being recovered, even if it's in the wear-levelling reserved pool.

        Reading through Apple's information [apple.com] about APFS, it seems Apple are moving to a file-system that's encrypted on a per-file basis to permit secure deletion of individual files, not just a single-key per container system that only allows secure wiping of the entire container.

        Security and privacy are fundamental in the design of Apple File System. That's why Apple File System implements strong full-disk encryption, encrypting files and all sensitive metadata.

        Multi-key encryption with per-file keys for file data and a separate key for sensitive metadata.

        Multi-key encryption ensures the integrity of user data. Even if someone were to compromise the physical security of the device and gain access to the device key, they still couldn't decrypt the user's files.

    • Re: Ok... and? (Score:5, Informative)

      by guruevi ( 827432 ) <evi@e v c ircuits.com> on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @09:53AM (#55110169) Homepage

      The good: it makes your drives faster/better
      The bad: many people are quesy about touching their data structures and don't understand the importance of backups.

      It's a non-story, we've known about this for a few years and it's already been rolled out to the entire iOS codebase.

    • Choice good, no choice bad.

      Further, New is bad, old is better (except when it is not). In this case, New is "untested" and Old is "reliable", which accentuates the Old Good/New Bad theme.

      Additionally, there is the fear of "Something Might Go Wrong(tm)" whenever faced with change. And having no choice increases that fear, and hence is bad.

      This is /. in 2017, so you don't actually have to know the technical merits to argue the case. And if you do know the technical merits, you'll be shouted down as a "Fanboi"

      • Re:Ok... and? (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @10:08AM (#55110333)

        Re the actual technical merits:

        • APFS is faster
        • APFS gives more accurate time stamping of files
        • APFS allows concurrent access, while HFS+ has central locks, which ends up being a massive performance improvement on very multicore machines, since they're not constantly sat in spin-locks waiting on IO
        • APFS supports snapshotting and copy on write
        • APFS supports sparse files
        • APFS's implementation of hard links actually works
        • APFS has decent, not-hacked-in support for TRIM
        • APFS encryption is more secure
        • APFS can quickly compute the size of the contents of a directory
        • APFS can do write coalescing
        • APFS uses volumes, rather than partitions, letting them be dynamically resized
        • Is that really a list of the merits of APFS, or the shortcomings of what it's supposed to replace?

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        Every iOS device running 10.3 (IIRC) is running APFS. That's more devices than there are Macs which can run High Sierra.

    • by alexhs ( 877055 )

      You're going to wait a long time for the answer of the guy that's using Windows 10 on a FAT32 filesystem :)

    • Basically, if you're using any other file systems, on any of your computers, Apple is going to convert them to APFS.

      Have a brand new Mac Pro running the very latest Mac OS X? It'll upgrade automatically.

      Still running a Mac Plus from 1985? You'll be mailed replacement System 6 disks.

      Have a DEC PDP-11 running RSX-11? They'll send an engineer around to install a patched version that uses APFS instead.

      Do you have a Commodore VIC 20 sitting in your closet? They'll come over and install a new ROM that t

      • Couldn't even bother reading TFSummary?

        Systems with hard disk drives (HDD) and Fusion drives won't be converted to APFS

        I really want to see your Mac Plus, PDP-11 and VIC 20 that are running off of an SSD.

    • Apparently you can't opt out of something that sometimes doesn't happen. I'd have thought that meant you can't opt in, but there you go.

  • And it's not even Friday yet.
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @10:01AM (#55110247)

    apple hardware only? or any SSD / pci-e flash card

    • apple hardware only? or any SSD / pci-e flash card

      Damn good question.

      Knowing Apple, I think we may sadly already know the answer.

    • You can already use APFS for non-root filesystems on any storage media with macOS.
    • No, not Apple hardware only. I've formatted a Sandisk thumb drive and an WD USB drive with APFS.

      It's just a new file system. You should be able to use it in place of HFS+, anywhere where you could use HFS+.

  • So this means High Sierra is a one-way upgrade, 'cause Sierra (and older) doesn't grok APFS. Well, not totally, but you'd better have a full Time Machine backup before upgrading, and if High Sierra breaks something you like (e.g., old but great Garage Band sound generators, old but great software, some driver for some great thing you use) you'll have to do a complete wipe, including re-formatting the drive, before re-installing Sierra (or older) from scratch and then restoring from Time Machine.

    Workable,

    • This. I would recommend actually making at least two USB boot drives and setting them aside, or even make a bootable DVD just to have hardware media squirreled away somewhere. It also is wise to copy off the application directory as a backup.

    • Re:No Backing Out? (Score:4, Informative)

      by TheFakeTimCook ( 4641057 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @04:06PM (#55112957)

      Workable, and thankfully Time Machine and Apple's Recovery Mode works so well, but damn you'd better have a reliable Time Machine drive, and better yet some install media with your last working Mac OS.

      Actually, in addition to the "Recovery Partition", OSX/macOS has had the ability for quite some time to automagically download and install the ORIGINAL OS for your particular Mac, and/or to create a USB Installer. No "Install discs", "Recovery Partition", or TM backup needed.

      http://www.macworld.co.uk/how-... [macworld.co.uk]

  • by Austerity Empowers ( 669817 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @10:03AM (#55110275)

    I am going to have a roast beef sandwich for lunch, I will opt out of the potatochips. However, lettuce, tomato and mayo are included with each order. You cannot opt out of the lettuce, tomato and mayo.

    • You can easily remove those items yourself. To further your analogy, the employees of the sandwich shop come over and shove the sandwich with the items you didnt want down your throat. They tell you that if you dont eat it all, you will get sick and are a danger to others.
      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        Lettuce and tomato I understand because they're solid toppings. But I don't see how it's so easy to remove mayonnaise from a sandwich.

        • Lettuce and tomato I understand because they're solid toppings. But I don't see how it's so easy to remove mayonnaise from a sandwich.

          Easy!

          Same way you wash dishes! Just use a Kenmore!

          "Here you go! Good dog, Kenmore!"

          Strat :)

  • by Khopesh ( 112447 ) on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @10:11AM (#55110353) Homepage Journal

    I'm not a Mac guy, so I had to look this up: Apple File System [wikipedia.org] (APFS) is a decent modern filesystem with most features you'd expect from something developed somewhat recently. Here's a FS comparison [wikipedia.org] where you can compare it to the latest and greatest competing formats like Linux's ex4 [wikipedia.org] and Btrfs [wikipedia.org], Sun's (Oracle's) ZFS [wikipedia.org], and of course Microsoft's NTFS [wikipedia.org].

    Features uncommon elsewhere include native snapshotting, encryption, and error correction.

    • Features uncommon elsewhere include native snapshotting, encryption, and error correction.

      I don't think error correction is actually part of it. Perhaps the filesystem data itself is protected, that could be true. However for the user data integrity, Apple are trusting the hardware to do the right thing. That might be fine for their SSDs, which they control themselves.

      But I'm a little bit disappointed that checksumming isn't present, because I'd love to be able to just ram that filesystem on external sticks and harddrives, and know that my data is checksummed.

  • by njvack ( 646524 ) <njvack@wisc.edu> on Wednesday August 30, 2017 @10:11AM (#55110357)

    Yeah, I know: filesystems take a long time to mature and not lose data. You want your FS tested — widely — before you rely on it to not eat data.

    Here's the thing: iOS 10.3 included an upgrade to APFS. Since March, every updated iPhone and iPad has been running this in production. Most of them have no idea, because it's basically invisible. I haven't heard of any problems stemming from this change.

    So, while OS X has different (more variable, probably) use cases from the sealed systems in iOS, it's very likely that in "normal" usage, APFS is going to be reliable for folks.

    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      So, while OS X has different (more variable, probably) use cases from the sealed systems in iOS

      One of them being Boot Camp. What file system should be used for data shared among macOS, Windows, and Linux?

  • What about a Mac with two internal drives, a non-Apple SSD and regular HDD? The HDD prevents the OS from using APFS?

  • This is a good upgrade to improve the file system. Among other things it improves protection against hackers and hostile governments (try and find another kind...).

  • I better get in line at Best Buy right now, I'm sure people will be standing in line for this release!

    Seriously though this is another reminder that maybe I need a new laptop. This MacBook I'm typing on is somewhere around 10 years old and it's stuck at macOS 10.11, which will soon be two versions behind. I hit this wall before when my previous Apple laptop was stuck at 10.4 as I recall. Sure there's hacks to work around the software enforced system requirements but I think I got my money's worth out of

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