File Systems are Broken


June 22, 2009


Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau


Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison


In this talk, I will present a summary of our recent research in understanding how disks fail and how file and storage systems handle such failures. Our findings reveal numerous design and implementation problems in a wide range of both open-source and commercial systems; put simply, file systems are broken (at least when it comes to reliability).

I will then present a number of current research directions that we are pursuing in order to build a new generation of robust and reliable storage systems. With more formal analysis and construction techniques, we hope to transform the “art” of file system design and implementation into a more rigorous and careful science.


Remzi H. Arpaci-Dusseau

Remzi Arpaci-Dusseau is an associate professor in the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He received his B.S. in Computer Engineering from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley under advisor David Patterson. He was twice won the SACM Student Choice Professor of the Year award at Wisconsin, where he co-leads a research group with his wife Andrea. Together with their students, they have won numerous best paper awards and still hold the Datamation world record in external sorting. Andrea and Remzi have also co-chaired both the USENIX Annual Technical Conference in 2004 and the USENIX File and Storage Technology conference in 2007. Their current research focuses on building a new generation of simpler and more understandable storage systems.