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The long-term availability of data stored in a file system depends on how well it safeguards on-disk pointers used to access the data. Ideally, a system would correct all pointer errors. In this paper, the authors examine how well corruption-handling techniques work in reality. They develop a new technique called type-aware pointer corruption to systematically explore how a file system reacts to corrupt pointers. This approach reduces the exploration space for corruption experiments and works without source code. They use type-aware pointer corruption to examine Windows NTFS and Linux ext3. They find that they rely on type and sanity checks to detect corruption, and NTFS recovers using replication in some instances.
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