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Defragment early and often with large files

Rick Cook discusses the benefits, or lack thereof, of disk defragmentation in Windows NT.

Defragment early and often with large files
Rick Cook

Defragmentation is somewhat controversial with Windows NT Server users. Although rearranging the disk to keep all the sectors of the same files together should speed up access and make more efficient use of space, some people feel that on a multi-user system like NT server defragmentation's benefits are limited because having many users accessing different files at more or less the same time tends to randomize access anyway. With modern controllers and access algorithm, the argument goes, defragmentation's benefits are limited.

However for Northern Oklahoma College's (Tonkawa, OK) ( multi-media lab, the issue is clear-cut. Defrag early and often is the policy there. "Get a solid defragmentation program and implementation strategy," advises Piyush Patel, director of multimedia and digital communications at the school.

Defragmention is particularly important in an environment like NOC's multi-media lab. Although the system is multi-user, the files are very large, often hundreds of megabytes and more. Large files benefit from defragmentation because they represent a lot of data that is read sequentially. In NOC's application, Patel says, "you end up with garbage on the hard disks if you don't constantly defrag."

Defragmentation software for Windows NT is available from a number of vendors, including Symantec Corp. ( and Executive Software (

Rick Cook has been writing about mass storage since the days when the term meant an 80K floppy disk. The computers he learned on used ferrite cores and magnetic drums. For the last twenty years he has been a freelance writer specializing in storage and other computer issues.

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Windows 2000 Hardware and Disk Management, 1/e
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Windows 2000 Hardware and Disk Management is 100% focused on helping IT professionals and users make the most of hardware and disks with Windows 2000. Covering both Windows 2000 Server and Professional, this book delivers practical examples, real-world techniques, and expert insight--in a handy, quick-reference format that delivers the right solution, right when you need it!

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