Zion: File System Simulator

Document Type


Lead Author Type

CIS Masters Student


Dr. Robert Adams, adams@cis.gvsu.edu

Embargo Period



File systems are fundamental for computers and devices with data storage units. Without them, the content of a disk would be nothing but a long stream of meaningless bytes. File systems allow operating systems to understand and organize this stream of bytes and obtain readable files from them. There are a lot of file systems available in the industry, all with their own unique features, and sometimes it is hard to understand how they work and interact with the operating system. Zion was created with this in mind. Zion is a file system simulator, designed as a teaching and experimenting tool for Computer Science and Computer Engineering students. It allows students to understand how the I/O manager of an operating system interacts with the drive. Users can see and analyze the structure of a simple, flat file system (with no directories) provided with Zion, or simulate commercial structures such as FAT or NTFS. They can even create their own implementations and run them through the simulator to analyze their behaviors.

Zion runs on Windows machines, and the application is provided with a DLL that includes the interfaces of a file system and a volume manager. These interfaces allow students to create a project in Visual Studio using any .NET language (3.0 or above), and build their own file system or volume manager. The tool gives the users the power to adjust simulated architectural parameters such as volume and block size, or performance factors such as seek and transfer time. Zion runs workload of I/O operations such as create, delete, read, and write, and analyze the resulting metrics including I/O operations, read/write time, and disk fragmentation. The interface provided with the application, together with the expendability of the tool itself, allows Zion to be a potential lab tool for Operating System classes.

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