ZFS in Windows

May 24th, 2014

I’m experimenting with getting a ZFS array up in Windows, as a working drive.

ZFS, like RAID, can load-balance across hard drives, giving a significant performance improvement. You can also add some SSDs to your array, as cache drives. Plus ZFS has some great snapshotting features, and does an amazing job of keeping your data safe.

However. ZFS is not available on Windows.

I’ve set up a ZFS array in a Linux box that can achieve almost 300MB/s transfers, but when you’re going over a gigabit you’re limited to about 110MB/s. And with SSDs, that array could get much faster.

The next step I’m trying, is to put the ZFS array in a Linux VM, on the Windows workstation. So far this is going well – My VM has raw access to the disks, and with 2 SSDs in an array, it can write at 630MB/s and read at >1GB/s!

But. Windows accessing the files over samba is getting up to 350MB/s write-speeds (and not consistently). Most worrying is the best read speed I’ve seen is 160MB/s.

That’s much better than over a gigabit network, but not good enough to justify the agro of running the linux VM.

I’ve tried googling around, but struggling to find much relevant information. I’ve tweaked the samba settings, and some helped the write-speed, but none made much of a dent in the read-speed.

Next step is to try VirtualBox… maybe it’s networking handling will be better.

UPDATE: performance in VirtualBox was similar. I find the slower read speed must confusing. I also tried using iSCSI instead of Samba, but got similar performance.

I’ve given up for the time being… Maybe the way forward is an external box hosting the ZFS array with thunderbolt between them? Except Thunderbolt cards aren’t much cheaper than 10gb network cards :(

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