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Disc defrag-C: Drive


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#1 honu1

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 10:09 AM

Weekly I do a disk clean up + disc defrag on my C: Drive.
I am puzzled with the following message that is given after defrag is complete.

Defragmentation is complete for HP_Pavilion (C:)
Some files on this volume could not be defragmented.
Please check the defragmentation report for the list of these files.

So I click on view report. The top box is filled with all kinds of information regarding something called volume information.

The bottom box is supposed to show the files that did not fragment, but it is blank,no info in there at all! So why in the world do I keep getting the message some files didn't fragment?

And what in the world is master table fragmentation? That one appears in the top box towards the end of all the volume information.

Thank you for your explanations in this matter.
I am running Windows SP2,Home Edition. Any other info on my system can be found in my profile here at BC,but please feel free to ask any questions in order to help me sort this out.

honu1
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#2 Mike T

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 10:55 AM

honu1: My XP system does the same thing - same messages, same list of no files. I am fairly certain this is normal (XP defragger never completely defags the system), and that it is nothing to worry about.

Mike T

#3 honu1

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 11:34 AM

Thanks Mike T.
Thought I had a bug to worry about....sigh.
What is the MTF,tho? Please,no geek speak,thanks.
honu1
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#4 dc3

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 11:55 AM

You might wish to try a different defrag application, I'm currently using Auslogics and like it much more than the one in XP.

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#5 Mike T

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Posted 25 January 2009 - 12:55 PM

honu1: Yes, there are other defrag applications available. I subscribe to MaximumPC magazine, and a couple months ago they had an article evaluating different defrag utilities available for XP. Bottom line was mixed: There are utilities that do a better job that the default version in XP, but in most instances the benefit is minimal. The exception being if your hard drive(s) are nearing capacity and fragmentation is hindering their performance, another utility would be worth investigating. Either that or adding a new hard drive. If you have an older SATA or IDE hard drive w/ transfer rates less than the current 3.0 Gb/sec standard, a utility may also be of benefit. Just my 2 cents worth...

The MFT you refer to is the Master File Table. This is where XP keeps a "list" of the locations on your hard disks where the files (and file parts) reside. The more data you have on your disk, the more fragmented the MFT becomes. The fragments (both MFT and the files themselves) aren't necessarily bad, just indicative of more data. But the more fragmented your system becomes, the slower the seek and write times become. Also the number of applications you have open impacts fragmentation. The more programs/files that are open, the more access, logging, etc. that occurs. As open files increase, the file system tends to favor speed over orderliness - hence more fragmentation. Also as your drive(s) fill up, they work harder to find places to store things - slowing operation and increasing fragmentation.

Bottom line: Defragmentation is a good thing, but look at the underlying causes and correct them if needed. There will always be aleast some fragmentation.

You sound much like myself: You see things on your system that look odd, and want to find out why. My vague understanding of XP is that its normal mode of operation results in a fair amount of fragmentation. Without delving into the specifics of the system - which is way beyond me, the above explanation satisfys me - at least for now! Maybe someone else can give a more in-depth or correct explanation of it in laymans terms that we both can understand???


Mike T

#6 speedbird76

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Posted 26 January 2009 - 11:54 AM

I am no expert but I'll give it a shot.

The above post is right: the MFT i.e. the Master File Table is the record of all files and their attributes on the volume (partition) including location of the files, and locations of each of the fragments if the file(s) are fragmented.

More info is here
http://support.microsoft.com/kb/174619

In a nutshell
-NTFS initially allocates approx 12.5% of the volume for the MFT (quite substantial!). Once this allocated zone is used up by the MFT, NTFS will automatically expand the MFT. Whether this expansion leads to fragmentation of the MFT depends on whether there is sufficient contiguous space adjacent to the MFT.

-Addition of a large number of files, particularly small files, can cause the MFT to grow. Very small files are stored within the MFT itself.

-Fragmentation of files on the volume can cause the MFT to grow since it has to store more information for each file.

-The MFT zone can be written to by other files if necessary, but only as a last resort when disk space is <12.5%

-Once the volume gets filled up >87.5% then the chances of the MFT fragmenting increase. But even with more than 12.5% free space, the MFT can fragment depending on whether files were added and later deleted from the volume, and the file situation adjacent to the MFT zone.

-By default, the MFT only grows, and does not shrink; however defragging the MFT will rearrange the contents (if I am not wrong) and fill up the 'gaps' that once contained the records of the deleted files, thereby recovering the space. (need to double-check this).

-The MFT is the single most important file on an NTFS volume because each time a file is accessed, the MFT is accessed. Each time a file is updated/modifed/written the corresponding MFT entry is updated accordingly. If the file is fragmented, then the information has to be read for each fragment, slowing down the process. Similarly, if the MFT itself is fragmented, the file access is slower.

-There is a duplicate of the first few records of the MFT, called the MFT mirror. This is stored in a location 'away' from the original MFT, so that the volume can still be accessed if the original MFT is corrupted.

-The XP defragmentation API, developed by Microsoft and Executive Software (now called Diskeeper) has the ability tp defrag the MFT. But the default XP defragger, or any of the freeware utilities, all of which use this API cannot actually utilize that ability ...why..I don't know.

-Only a handful of utilities can defrag the MFT. Pro grade defragmenters like Diskeeper (not DK Lite) can defrag most of the MFT from within windows, without requiring a boot-time defrag. I use Diskeeper 2009 Pro currently and I've noticed it doing this on a heavily fragmented volume; it also has a unique feature to proactively enlarge the MFT zone if needed to prevent it's imminent fragmentation.

-The MFT in a 3 or 4 fragments is not a performance problem. However, if it is severely fragmented, file access will slow down.

Hope this throws some light on the topic. Feel free to correct me if I have made any mistakes. :thumbsup:

PS: haven't used the XP defragger in a long time, since Diskeeper has been running on automatic mode on my systems and I never bother with manual defrag. So I don't remember what the XP defragger used to do with system restore points..whether it was able to defrag them or not.

#7 honu1

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 11:29 AM

Wow! So much technical information! :thumbsup:
I'm afraid I'm not understanding this. Speedbird76, are you saying that there is a program that auto defrags your C: drive constantly?
Some of you have mentioned system restore points also. Again, I am clueless about those....sigh.
Perhaps I should delete some unnecessary files, but that's a very scary thought for me.

Maybe there is a tutorial here at BC to explain the mystery of disk clean up +defrag?

honu1
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#8 Pandy

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Posted 08 February 2009 - 11:34 AM

Actually honu1 there is one here.. http://www.bleepingcomputer.com/tutorials/the-importance-of-disk-defragmentation/

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#9 honu1

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 08:59 AM

Okay, I read the tut + am concerned about shutting off my anti virus protection while doing a defrag. I am running KIS 2009. I don't like the thought of having no firewall nor virus protection. I suppose if I have no open browser nor email applications running, I can temporarily disable KIS to do a defrag?
I rather like the idea of having an auto defrag program that will operate without my shutting down other important programs.
Is the standard Windows XP defrag utility all that bad?
As far as moving files to an external drive,then bringing them back so they are defragmented, well, that concept is a bit beyond me at the moment. I have an external drive(empty) and am waiting for a tech friend to help me get it running.

Thanks for all the input+links. I've got lots of reading to do. :thumbsup:
honu1
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#10 dc3

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Posted 09 February 2009 - 11:00 AM

It's best to have as little as possible running when you defrag the hdd, and you should be off line as well. This means that you won't need to worry about disabling you anti virus and firewall, personally... I never turned mine off to defrag. With the larger hdd that are being used today defragging isn't needed as often in normal use, I would think that once a month would be adequate.

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