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A virtual file system (VFS) is an abstraction layer that resides above a file system and provides an interface between the kernel and file system. Through a VFS, client applications can access different file systems.
A VFS is also known as a virtual file system switch (VFS).
Think of a virtual file system (VFS) as a manageable container that virtually provides the functionality of a file system.
During each file system initialization, the file system registers itself with the VFS. This occurs as the operating system (OS) initializes itself at startup. The real file systems are generally built as loadable modules or built directly into the kernel.
The VFS also keeps a cache of directory lookups so that inodes for frequently accessed directories can be located easily. For example, a VFS can transparently access local and network storage devices without the client application, knowing the actual file systems, and even can bridge the disparity among Windows, Mac OS and UNIX file systems.