I had a spare Western Digital MyBook drive, a model WD 10EACS with 1 TB of space, so rather than have it sit around and gather dust I decided to set up some additional file backup operations.
I initially tried formatting it to NTFS and plugging it into my Cisco/Linksys E4200 router (a couple of years old), which claims to support serving a USB drive in that format - but as is all too common it doesn't actually work right when it comes to the nitty gritty. I got it to serve the drive and I was able to copy some tens of gigabytes of data to it but then it would just lock up after a few hours of use. Additionally, the copied data had permissions problems - I could write new files, but not overwrite existing files. Several attempts to update the router firmware resulted in a bricked router, which (fortunately) responded to the secret "hold it in 10 seconds" recessed reset switch, which restored the prior firmware. My conclusion: The Cisco/Linksys implementation is rinkydink (I smell undisciplined Unix under the covers), and so a selling-point feature printed on the box to sell the product doesn't actually work. At least it works okay as a router.
I decided to plug the drive into a Windows 8.1 Pro system instead, and serve it from there. It occurred to me that ReFS is supposed to deliver great data integrity, so I figured "why not?" What better to use ReFS on than an external drive? I've been running ReFS on an internal backup drive for months with great results.
Initially, indications were that Windows 8 can't format an external drive with ReFS, but it turns out (as with so many things) that it actually IS possible with a registry tweak (seems like Win 8 is substantially just Windows Server with much of the functionality dormant). Specifically, this page over on WinAero describes how:
Here it is, all formatted up:
Of course I have to use it for a while to ensure the promise of integrity behind this is solid...
Anyway, so far so good. I've copied hundreds of gigabytes to it and so far it works fine.
The data rate for writing averages something over 50 MB/sec with peaks to over 70 MB/sec - which isn't bad for a USB 2 drive that's not exactly new.
Most importantly, I don't feel any stress on the system at all while it's copying data. The mouse and UI are smooth, music plays without dropouts, and Task Manager shows nothing out of the ordinary for resource usage (CPU sits at 0% most of the time). Save for the quiet seeking sounds from the drive you wouldn't know any data is being copied at all. I'd call that good.