HFS+

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HFS+, or Hierarchical File System Plus, is the file system designed by Apple Computer[1] to supersede HFS. First introduced with Mac OS 8.1, one of the biggest differences was the lower allocation block size of 4kb, thereby increasing performance and lowering fragmentation [2].

There are structurally many differences between HFS and HFS+, which are listed below[3]:

Feature

HFS

HFS Plus

Benefit/Comment

User visible name

Mac OS Standard

Mac OS Extended

Number of allocation blocks

16 bits worth

32 bits worth

Radical decrease in disk space used on large volumes, and a larger number of files per volume.

Long file names

31 characters

255 characters

Obvious user benefit; also improves cross-platform compatibility

File name encoding

MacRoman

Unicode

Allows for international-friendly file names, including mixed script names

File/folder attributes

Support for fixed size attributes (FileInfo and ExtendedFileInfo)

Allows for future meta-data extensions

Future systems may use metadata for a richer Finder experience

OS startup support

System Folder ID

Also supports a dedicated startup file

May help non-Mac OS systems to boot from HFS Plus volumes

catalog node size

512 bytes

4 KB

Maintains efficiency in the face of the other changes. (This larger catalog node size is due to the much longer file names [512 bytes as opposed to 32 bytes], and larger catalog records (because of more/larger fields)).

Maximum file size

231 bytes

263 bytes

Obvious user benefit, especially for multimedia content creators.


An HFS+ volume contains five special files that are necessary to the file system: <nl>

  • Catalog file
  • Extents overflow file
  • Allocation file
  • Attributes file
  • Startup file
  • </nl>