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A Database Fix for the File System

However, improved headroom doesn't alter the fact that file systems are self-destructive. Every time you save a file, you overwrite the last valid copy of data. This goes back to the roots of file system design in the 1960s and '70s, when software engineers opted to minimize the costs of expensive resources like storage rather than add to their software journaling or versioning techniques for protecting file versions.

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In addition, most file systems today don't automatically provide detailed descriptions of the data. And the stored metadata (data about data) doesn't say much about the contents or usage of a file, which makes ILM and automatic provisioning impossible. Users name their files, and applications, such as Microsoft's Office, let users add content descriptions, which are saved with the files. But it's up to the user to complete the information page when each file is saved. Few actually bother.

Without rigorous file-naming methodologies or consistent application-level file descriptions, recent regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley and HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) are causing big headaches. It's tough to identify which files must be retained in special repositories for regulatory compliance if the files don't include descriptive information. Just try retrieving the correct files quickly, or segregating files that require special protection, when you're under the pressures of an SEC investigation.

Typical Inode Structure

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