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Apple File System (APFS)

Article ID = 188
Article Title = Apple File System (APFS)
Article Author(s) = Graham Needham (BH)
Article Created On = 30th August 2017
Article Last Updated = 30th August 2017
Article URL = http://www.macstrategy.com/article.php?188

Article Brief Description:
Infromation about the new Apple File System (APFS) introduced with iOS 10.3 and macOS 10.13 High Sierra

Apple File System (APFS)

Apple introduced a new, modern file system called "Apple File System" with iOS 10.3, macOS 10.13 High Sierra and it is available in the latest version of macOS. It was also rolled out for tvOS 11 and watchOS 4 in the autumn of 2017. This underlying feature of the OS is optimised specifically for Flash/SSD storage and includes features such as:
  • Strong encryption
  • Copy-on-write metadata
  • Space sharing
  • Cloning for files and directories
  • Snapshots
  • Fast directory sizing
  • Atomic safe-save primitives
  • Improved file system fundamentals

How To Get The New Apple File System

Install one of the following operating systems on your Apple device:

Mac Computers

Installing macOS 10.13 or later includes APFS. It all depends on what type of storage you have for your Startup Disk whether you get APFS automatically:
  • Internal SSD/Flash storage (came with the Mac from Apple) - will be automatically upgraded to APFS > you can't opt-out of the transition to APFS
  • Internal "Fusion Drive" (came with the Mac from Apple) - will not be automatically upgraded to APFS > you will have the option to convert to APFS during the installation/upgrade
  • Internal SSD/Flash storage (that you upgraded yourself/third party upgrade) - will not be automatically upgraded to APFS > you will have the option to convert to APFS during the installation/upgrade
  • Internal or external hard disk drive (traditional HDD) - will not be automatically upgraded to APFS > you will have the option to convert to APFS during the installation/upgrade
  • External storage (SSD/Flash/USB) - will not be automatically upgraded to APFS > you will have the option to convert to APFS during the installation/upgrade
NOTE: If you need to know what your Startup Disk is go to Apple menu > About This Mac and see what it says for "Startup Disk" > then click "Storage" tab and check the type of storage against the name of your Startup Disk.
NOTE: Additional storage (internal or external) to your startup disk will not be converted to APFS during the installation/upgrade.

APFS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q. Can I use Apple File System with my existing hard disk drive?
A. Yes. APFS is optimised for Flash/SSD storage. It can also be used with traditional hard disk drives (HDD) and external, direct-attached storage.
Q. If I opt-out of APFS when installing/upgrading macOS can I convert my Startup Disk to APFS at a later date?
Q. Can I convert storage devices from HFS+ to APFS at a later date?
A. Yes. You can use Apple's "Disk Utility" application to do the conversion. You can do the conversion in-place - you do not need to erase/reformat. However, please make sure you have a backup of your data before you do the conversion.
Q. Can I convert APFS storage back to HFS+?
A. Not in-place, non-destructively. The only way to convert back is to reformat the storage as HFS+ losing all data in the process.
Q. Does APFS work with FileVault?
A. Yes.
Q. Does APFS work with Boot Camp?
A. Boot Camp is supported when upgrading to macOS High Sierra, unless the Boot Camp volume is greater than 3 TB and resides on a Fusion Drive. Boot Camp doesn't support Read/Write to APFS-formatted Mac volumes.
Q. Does APFS work with RAID?
A. Yes. Apple File System does not directly implement software RAID; however APFS-formatted volumes can be combined with an Apple RAID volume to support Striping (RAID 0), Mirroring (RAID 1), and Concatenation (JBOD). APFS-formatted volumes can also be used with direct-attached hardware RAID solutions.
Q. I share APFS formatted volumes via Personal File Sharing/macOS Server. Can I still do this?
A. APFS formatted volumes can only be shared via the SMB or NFS protocols. They cannot be shared via the AFP protocol. Time Machine share points must be shared over SMB instead of AFP.
Q. Does APFS work with Time Machine?
A. Yes and no:
  • macOS 10.12.5 or earlier startup disk backing up to HFS+ formatted storage = YES
  • macOS 10.12.5 or earlier startup disk backing up to APFS formatted storage = NO
  • macOS 10.12.6 startup disk backing up to HFS+ formatted storage = YES
  • macOS 10.12.6 startup disk backing up to APFS formatted storage = YES
  • macOS 10.13 or later on HFS+ startup disk backing up to HFS+ formatted storage = YES
  • macOS 10.13 or later on APFS startup disk backing up to HFS+ formatted storage = UNKNOWN
  • macOS 10.13 or later on HFS+ startup disk backing up to APFS formatted storage = YES
  • macOS 10.13 or later on APFS startup disk backing up to APFS formatted storage = YES
  • A Time Machine share point on HFS+ formatted storage can be shared over AFP or SMB
  • A Time Machine share point on APFS formatted storage must be shared over SMB and not AFP
Q. Can I connect a storage volume formatted with Apple File System (APFS) to a Mac running macOS 10.12 Sierra or earlier?
Q. Can I Target Mode connect Macs formatted with Apple File System (APFS) to a Mac running macOS 10.12 Sierra or earlier?
A. This will only work with the host Mac running macOS 10.12.6 or later. If your Mac is running macOS 10.12.5 or earlier it will not be able to see/use APFS formatted storage.
Q. If I am running a computer with a Startup Disk upgraded to APFS can I still use additional internal/external storage devices that are formatted as HFS+ e.g. external drives/storage, RAID boxes, USB sticks, Time Machine backup drives, etc?
A. Yes. Although it is currently unknown whether you can backup a Startup Disk upgraded to APFS to a HFS+ formatted storage device using Time Machine - we will update this article as more information becomes available.
More Frequently Asked Questions
Apple's Prepare for APFS in macOS High Sierra support document.
Apple's Developer pages have some additional FAQs.
Third Party Apps Specifically NOT Compatible With APFS

Article Keywords: macOS 1013 1014 1015 High Sierra APFS Apple File System conversion convert

This article is © MacStrategy » a trading name of Burning Helix. Apple, the Apple logo, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. App Store is a service mark of Apple Inc.


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