Ever since the new file system surfaced in the world of Mac, it has been unclear whether it has been good or bad. While there are a lot of good things that can be said about it, there also happen to be several drawbacks. Some of which is rather annoying.
If you are not familiar with what I am referring to, APFS is a new file system that has been introduced by Apple. It has been around for about a year now. If you are a new Mac owner or a new MacBookPro owner, you will notice that when you go into Disk Utility, your file system is no longer HFS+ but APFS.
So what exactly does that mean? What is the change all about?
Well, considering the change, let’s take a look at the pros first.
It is fast. Managing files, copying, and transferring files is insanely fast. For some users with massive files, this could be a very important plus.
It contains full single or multi-key encryption to keep all data safe. Again, for many users, this will be a huge benefit when dealing with file sharing and other transfers.
3. Less Corruption
File corruption or metadata corruption is not as common as in HFS+. Nothing can put a damper on a full day of work like discovering a corruption on a data file that may impact your work progress in a negative way.
4. Less Crashing
It has far better crash protection. Nothing brings a project to a screeching halt like a crash. It isn’t always easy to get back to that momentum once the system is back up and running.
Then there are the cons. These seem to be a bit more critical, at least from my perspective.
1. Time Machine
If you plan on using Time Machine on your newly formatted APFS Mac, you might run into problems. That’s because Time Machine backup drives can only be formatted to HFS+ file system and still be read by APFS file system.
2. Not Supported By Older OS
You would think that if you are creating a new file system that you would sort of want it to be backward compatible with older operating systems, right? Well, of course, you would. However, the APFS is not compatible with all OSX or older Sierra versions of MacOS.
3. Flash and SSD Optimized
Yes, it works well with flash and SSD based machines. Fusion or hybrid, not so much, except for MacOS Mojave. And when it comes down to regular hard drives, you are not going to see any measurable speed differences at all.
4. Data Recovery
Data recovery from APFS can be a lot more complicated than from its predecessor HFS+. That is especially true if you are looking to use the software yourself. In fact, the software may not even be able to recognize the file system at all. Professional help would be your next step to follow which translates to mean there will be a larger investment required to recover the data.
There also happen to be several other pros and cons that I haven’t covered in depth here such as… snapshots, integrity checksums or NVRAM utilization. But all of these items would only come into play if you are a more experienced user.
If you have a brand new Mac or MacBookPro, congratulations. The chances are that the ‘new’ APFS file system was installed into your machine by default. That’s not entirely a bad thing because if you are a Mac user who has no need for or doesn’t intend to use Time Machine or plan to work with older operating systems, for whatever the reason, you’ll be fine. The new file system offers a fair deal of good reasons to have it onboard.
Now, if you would rather have access to Time Machine or you happen to have Macs with older operating systems you want to connect with your new one, the previous HFS+ file system would be a better fit for you.
Again, it really does depend on what you are using your computer for and what you expect it to do for you. My goal here was to share with you a few of the observations I have made in comparing the two file systems. As I indicated above, there are a number of good things about the change to the newer file system and there are a few drawbacks. The type of user you are will determine what impact these changes will have on your overall experience.
About the author: Yevgeniy Kapishon is a hardcore techno enthusiast, a senior data recovery engineer and a blogger at Aesonlabs® Data Recovery Systems, living in Toronto, Canada. In his free time, he likes to wander and explore the back alleys of his neighborhood or carve into his favorite sci-fi flicks.