I know your supposed to optimize/defrag every so often (or more often if neccesary). Is it a bad idea to do it really often. What I mean is, when you perform these actions, it seems like a lot of stress over a short period of time on the hard drive. Will it reduce the life of my hard drive if I do it to often? (Like several times a week)

If you weigh the extra work it has to do when its not defragged & compare it to the work it has to do
to defrag, I would say they come out in favor of defragging. What do you think sailor?

I was a mechanical engineer in the data storage for many years. Handy is correct. If you do a defrag and your data is in relatively good shape, the defrag will go very quickly.


I can’t imagine a situation where you’d actually NEED to defrag several times a week. Once a month should be more than enough.

This seems like a good enough place for this query: how does NTFS avoid the need to defrag? (or is it too involved of an answer)

NTFS doesn’t avoid the need to defrag. They added built in defrag in Win 2K. Before that MS reccomended that you backup and restore. Before Win 2K you could use a program called DiskKeeper (I believe W2K’s defrag is based on this) or Norton Utilities, as well as some other 3rd party defragging progs.

“…If you do a defrag and your data is in relatively good shape, the defrag will go very quickly…”

      • Um, no. I have never seen the MS defragger ever go fast, on the three PC’s I have (1yr, 5 yrs and 10yrs old): for the first 15 minutes, it seems to intentionally only move one cluster at a time. Then for the next 15 minutes, it jumps to 2 or 3 clusters at a time. Defragging any disk takes at least 45 minutes. If that is necessary to the process or not I don’t know, but third-party defraggers seems to do the same job far faster.
  • If you get Norton Utilities (for instance), it has a defragger with a couple options: one is a “full optimization”, and the other “unfragments files only”. If you’ve moved around a lot of big files, simply using the “unfragment files only” setting runs much faster and does speed things up, depending on how mixed up the files were before.
  • It has been discussed in another thread exactly what the Norton utility does and if it actually defrags/optimizes or not. At the very least, it is not identical to the MS/Win98 defrag utility but I have gone months without using the MS utility at all (because it’s so slow) and never seemed to suffer because of it. - DougC

Then what is the big deal about NTFS? What does it do better than FAT32?

And why the hell wouldn’t NT come with a defragmenting utility?

I can’t find the specific article at the moment, but one of the NTFS-related articles at Arstechnica.com explained how fragmentation in NTFS worked. I believe the gist is that NTFS is smarter about how it arranges files on the disk to avoid fragmentation before it starts, but that once it occurs, fragmentation incurs much larger performance penalties than on FAT32.

Thanks, FDISK, I did a search there and found it.

DougC, MS defrag is very slow. I don’t know why. I only use third party defraggers now, they are pretty fast.

Norton does not defrag. It optimizes. Defragmentation is the process of rearraning the way files are organized on a disk so that the data comprising each file is stored in adjacent or contiguous disk clusters.

Optimization maximizes the usuable free space on a disk by grouping files based on how they are accessed. The most frequently used files are placed at the beginning of the disk for fast access. Infrequently used files are placed out of the way. Free space is consolidated to avoid fragmenting newly added files, and extra space is added after major data structures so they can grow without immediately becoming fragmented again.

I use Norton optimization for half a year now, and haven’t defragged since I started. Since new fragmenting is avoided, I don’t see the need. I haven’t noticed any slow down of my computer.

NTFS has a built in security system, and that’s the primary feature. There are other differences, too, but that’s the big one.

barbitu8 - totally agree with you on Norton - it’s amazing! I feel so cleeeean and efficient when my disk is nice solid chunks of colour!

But doesn’t Norton optimise AND defrag? I had thought that optimising was defragging, except taking it one stage further as you point out to arrange the files together.

There’s a few good things about NTFS. One thing is, it allows permissions to be placed on files that control who can read,write or execute a file, just like a *nix ext2 file system. NTFS also uses smaller cluster size, so you can actually get more space out of the same size drive, as compared to FAT32. NTFS also allows a few more attributes to be set, like archive and such. FAT32 has a limited set of attributes. Oh yeah, NTFS also treats everything as a file, including hardware, like *nix, making it a much better networking OS than FAT32.

NTFS allows files larger than 4 gigs, needed if you do large files.

No, it does not defrag. If it does, I am unaware of it. I cannot find it in the program and the manual does not say it does. The manual says that in NT, 2000, and XP you can analyze each disk to determine its fragmentation before you optimize it. But it will only optimize it. It’s strange, but I have ME and at first I found the defragmentation level shown on one of the options in the program, but I’ve been unable to find it lately. I’m pretty sure it was in Speed Disk, but it’s not there now.:confused:

Eureka! The percentage not fragmented can be found by clicking on Speed Disk. Before you Start, it will scan your folders. When it is done (a few seconds), it will display the percentage not fragmented and give you options re optimization. BTW, my C drive is 99% not fragmented. Who need defrag when optimization gets such good results.:slight_smile:

Umm, maybe there’s a difference in Norton SpeedDisk for NT and Win9x. I run Win98 and Norton Utils 2002. I just did a test run and checked a partition, 100% not fragmented (rounding, it’s not really). Under the options of what to do, 2nd was unfragment files only and 3rd was unfragment free space. (By the disk map, the free space was horribly fragmented.) There is also a setup option of unfragmenting the swap file (which is a very fine idea if you haven’t done it before).

I have payed close attention to Norton’s defragger behavior and compared it to other utils over the years. All versions I’ve run definitely do defragment.

And why does Norton say “unfragment”?

(Note that there was an old way of speeding disks involving setting the interleave ratio, but we users don’t usually have to worry about that anymore.)

Well, you’re right, but it doesn’t say "unfragmenting the swap files, but “optimize the swap files.” And it does say “unfragment” not “defragment.” And the first option is “full optimization.” In view of that, I just assume that “unfragment” with Norton is the same as optimize. But if you say it does defragment, I may do that; however, it recommends only full optimization, so that’s all I do. I usually don’t go to the Speed Disk, but to “Norton Optimization Wizard,” which first cleans my disk of clutter before automatically switching to Speed Disk to to do the optimization. It always recommends optimizing the registry and swap file first.