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The meaning of «zfs»

ZFS (previously: Zettabyte file system) combines a file system with a volume manager. It began as part of the Sun Microsystems Solaris operating system in 2001. Large parts of Solaris – including ZFS – were published under an open source license as OpenSolaris for around 5 years from 2005, before being placed under a closed source license when Oracle Corporation acquired Sun in 2009/2010. During 2005 to 2010, the open source version of ZFS was ported to Linux, Mac OS X (continued as MacZFS) and FreeBSD. In 2010, the illumos project forked a recent version of OpenSolaris, to continue its development as an open source project, including ZFS. In 2013, OpenZFS was founded to coordinate the development of open source ZFS.[4][5][6] OpenZFS maintains and manages the core ZFS code, while organizations using ZFS maintain the specific code and validation processes required for ZFS to integrate within their systems. OpenZFS is widely used in Unix-like systems.[7][8][9]

The management of stored data generally involves two aspects: the physical volume management of one or more block storage devices such as hard drives and SD cards and their organization into logical block devices as seen by the operating system (often involving a volume manager, RAID controller, array manager, or suitable device driver), and the management of data and files that are stored on these logical block devices (a file system or other data storage).

ZFS is unusual because, unlike most other storage systems, it unifies both of these roles and acts as both the volume manager and the file system. Therefore, it has complete knowledge of both the physical disks and volumes (including their condition and status, their logical arrangement into volumes), and also of all the files stored on them. ZFS is designed to ensure (subject to suitable hardware) that data stored on disks cannot be lost due to physical errors or misprocessing by the hardware or operating system, or bit rot events and data corruption which may happen over time, and its complete control of the storage system is used to ensure that every step, whether related to file management or disk management, is verified, confirmed, corrected if needed, and optimized, in a way that storage controller cards and separate volume and file managers cannot achieve.

ZFS also includes a mechanism for dataset and pool-level snapshots and replication, including snapshot cloning which is described by the FreeBSD documentation as one of its "most powerful features", having features that "even other file systems with snapshot functionality lack".[10] Very large numbers of snapshots can be taken, without degrading performance, allowing snapshots to be used prior to risky system operations and software changes, or an entire production ("live") file system to be fully snapshotted several times an hour, in order to mitigate data loss due to user error or malicious activity. Snapshots can be rolled back "live" or previous file system states can be viewed, even on very large file systems, leading to savings in comparison to formal backup and restore processes.[10] Snapshots can also be cloned to form new independent file systems. A pool level snapshot (known as a "checkpoint") is available which allows rollback of operations that may affect the entire pool's structure, or which add or remove entire datasets.

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