Volume table of contents

Volume table of contents

In the IBM mainframe storage architecture, Volume Table Of Contents, or VTOC, is a data structure, that provides a way of locating the data sets that reside on a particular disk volume. It can reside within the first 64K tracks on the volume, and lists the names of each data set on the volume as well as size, location, and permissions. Additionally, it contains an entry for every area of contiguous free space on the volume. The third record on the first track of the first cylinder of any volume of DASD (i.e. disk pack) is known as the volume label and must contain a pointer to the location of the VTOC. A VTOC is added to a disk when it is initialized using the Device Support Facilities utility program, ICKDSF. VTOC was originally designed for removable disk packs.

To locate a data set, a program will generally interrogate a z/OS catalog to find the volume where the data set resides. Having found the correct volume, the VTOC is searched to find out where on the disk the data set is stored.

The VTOC comprises records known as Data Set Control Blocks, or DSCBs. There are seven types of DSCB.

DSCB types in a VTOC
DSCB format type Purpose Notes
0 Empty entry
1 Data set primary Describes first three extents of a data set
2 ISAM data set Describes ISAM data sets
3 Data set extension Describes data set extents after the third
4 VTOC Describes volume attributes
5 Free space Redundant if the VTOC is indexed
7 Free space Only used for a limited set of devices

The first DSCB in the VTOC is always a format 4 DSCB which describes the VTOC itself and attributes of the disk volume on which this VTOC resides. The second DSCB is always a format 5 DSCB which describes free space within the VTOC. Normally, the rest of the VTOC will contain format 0 DSCBs, which are empty entries, and format 1 or format 3 DSCBs, which describe data sets, giving their start address on disk. The initial part of a data set is described by a format 1 DSCB. If necessary, format 3 DSCBs are used to describe further parts of the data set. When a data set is deleted, its format 1 DSCB is overwritten to become a format 0 DSCB.

Originally, a VTOC search was a sequential scan of the DSCBs, stopping when the correct format 1 DSCB was found or the end of the VTOC was reached. As disk volumes became larger, VTOC search became a bottleneck and so a VTOC index was added.

See also


  1. z/OS DFSMS: Using Data Sets
  2. z/OS: DFSMSdfp Advanced Services

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