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O'Reilly Network: Proper Filesystem Layout

Oct 14, 2001, 23:05 (16 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Luke A. Kanies)
"Speaking of filesystems filling up, this is one of the reasons for increasing the number of filesystems: Some forms of Unix behave very badly when certain filesystems, such as /tmp and / fill up. Separating these filesystems from directories which tend to grow, such as /var , can save you a lot of headaches. Aside from the operating system, when filesystem gets full, it generally means something will stop working correctly because an app is locked waiting to write data, or logs or other data cannot be written and thus are lost.

In laying out both your operating system and your application filesystems, there are a couple of factors you should always keep in mind. Probably the most important of these is backups. It is unlikely that you are designing a server that doesn't need some kind of backup, and proper filesystem design can greatly simplify the process. Some backup software can only backup entire partitions, which makes your granularity on backup rules relatively large. If you need a tighter granularity for backups, the only way to achieve that might be to break your data into separate filesystems.

It isn't immediately obvious, but filesystem layout can also have a significant impact on system performance. The first cylinders of a disk -- the cylinders at the outer edge -- are spinning the fastest and thus provide the best performance, but you also need to keep in mind the parts of the disk where the disk head will spend the most time."

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