Tips for using Windows 2000 Disk Defragmenter

Tips for using Windows 2000 Disk Defragmenter

By Linda Gail Christie

One of the primary causes of longer read times and extended reboots is file fragmentation that affects both Windows 2000/NT FAT and NTFS files. Fragmented free space available for writing files can also slow performance, since the disk head must move to different points to write the file.

To maintain peak levels of reliability and performance, Windows 2000 comes with a manual defragmenter known as Disk Defragmenter. To effectively use the Disk Defragmenter, however, there are a number of factors you should be aware of.

In NTFS, the Master File Table (MFT) makes one entry for every file on the NTFS volume. To guarantee enough space for these entries, Windows 2000 reserves one-eighth of the disk volume for exclusive MFT use--the MFT Zone. In addition to this MFT Zone, the Paging File allocated to swap data in and out of RAM also requires defragmenting to maintain peak performance. Unfortunately, though, once Windows 2000 starts up, neither the MFT nor the Paging File can be safely moved. If fragmentation of either of these becomes evident, they must be consolidated during boot time using a third-party defragmenter. This is also true for FAT directories and the Hibernate File where RAM memory data is deposited during power down.

Because Disk Defragmenter consolidates files and writes them to contiguous free space, sometimes you'll receive an error saying there is insufficient space to effectively defragment the files. When you check the amount of free space available, it may seem you have plenty of room. Remember, though, that the MFT Zone occupies 12 percent of the disk volume. Therefore, you'll need around 30 percent of free space on any NTFS volume to effectively defrag the disk.

New systems will also benefit from defragmentation as loading the operating system onto a new workstation or server results in both file and free-space fragmentation. The built-in utility should also be run manually at regular intervals to maintain peak performance.

Although Disk Defragmenter is an effective Windows 2000 tool, it's not designed to be a system management tool for network defragmentation. For this you'll need a third-party networkable defragmenter.

Additional resource:

  • For additional information, search for 'disk defragmenter' at Microsoft TechNet (http://www.microsoft.com/technet/default.asp) and select the article titled, "Maintaining Windows 2000 peak performance through defragmentation."

About the author: Storage management tips are written by Linda Gail Christie, a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.


This was first published in February 2001

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