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Hot Topics in Operating Systems, Workshop on (1999)
Rio Rico, Arizona
Mar. 28, 1999 to Mar. 30, 1999
ISSN: 1530-1621
ISBN: 0-7695-0237-7
pp: 2
Douglas J. Santry , University of British Columbia
Michael J. Feeley , University of British Columbia
Norman C. Hutchinson , University of British Columbia
Alistair C. Veitch , Hewlett Packard Laboratories
ABSTRACT
Modern file systems associate the deletion of a file with the release of the storage associated with that file, and file writes with the irrevocable change of file contents. We propose that this model of file system behavior is a relic of the past, when disk storage was a scarce resource. We believe that the correct model should ensure that all user actions are revocable. Deleting a file should change only the name space and file writes should overwrite no old data. The file system, not the user, should control storage allocation using a combination of user specified policies and information gleaned from file-edit histories to determine which old versions of a file to retain and for how long.This paper presents the Elephant file system, which provides users with a new contract: Elephant will automatically retain all important versions of the users files. Users name previous file versions by combining a traditional pathname with a time when the desired version of a file or directory existed. Elephant manages storage at the granularity of a file or groups of files using user-specified retention policies. This approach contrasts with checkpointing file systems such as Plan-9, AFS, and WAFL, that periodically generate efficient checkpoints of entire file systems and thus restrict retention to be guided by a single policy for all files within that file system. We also report on the Elephant prototype, which is implemented as a new Virtual File System in the FreeBSD kernel.
INDEX TERMS
File systems, Large disks, Checkpointing, Journaling, Log structured
CITATION

A. C. Veitch, N. C. Hutchinson, D. J. Santry and M. J. Feeley, "Elephant: The File System that Never Forgets," Hot Topics in Operating Systems, Workshop on(HOTOS), Rio Rico, Arizona, 1999, pp. 2.
doi:10.1109/HOTOS.1999.798369
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