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One New Thing
Thursday, June 24, 2004
One New Thing: Disk defragmenting (including how many times you can run it on one PC before it ceases to make a difference…)

I mostly knew what disk defragmentation was all about, but I couldn’t read that report that comes up once your defragmenting is over, so I had a look at this info from Microsoft on Maintaining Peak Performance Through Defragmentation (Win2000) Fragmentation occurs on any disk you save, delete, install and remove programs, or move data around on. When old data is deleted it creates space, when new data is added it fills up the first bits of space, then if there is any data left over it finds more space to write on the disk, wherever it may be. So the related bits of data are basically all over the place, and it can take a computer ages to put the bits together when you want to use them. Defragmenting (also “defragging” or “running a defrag”, hey Microsoft, where’s your slang glossary?) puts all the bits of files together, also all the free space together.

There’s a few other terms on that page that are probably useful to know: the other one I actually understood was the Master File Table (MFT) which is like a map to where everything is on the disk in an NTFS file system, which my PC has. It also gets fragmented and can’t be defragmented apparently, so it has its own MFT zone set aside on the disk to keep it as contiguous (that’s all joined together) as possible.

Oh. You can run it about 25 times on one PC before it doesn’t defrag any more. (This was on a tiny-sized drive with very little free space. But I’m nothing if not persistent!)

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