By cogenmaster ยท 10 replies
Mar 19, 2003
  1. First off let me pose a question: Norton speed disk or Windows defragmentor, is there any difference, which is better?

    My computer within 2 weeks gets to like 30-40% total file fragmentation as reported by Norton. It gets so bad it craws along like a snail until I defragment it. System restore always has the greatest amount of fragments so I turned it off on all drives to see what happens. It seems to me this should not be happening. My computer is used for Internet surfing and games no heavy file usage at all. Seems to me this all started several month back when I decided to go to NTSF instead of Fat32, but from my research NTFS is supposed to better at controlling file framentations. I never had this problem running Fat32. Any thoughts? Thanks.

    SoyoDragon Mobo
    AMD 1700
    Geforce 3 Ti200 41.09
    Sound Blaster Platinum
    512 DDR 2100
    30 G Maxtor c: drive
    10 g Maxtor d: drive
  2. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    do you use any file sharing programs like kazzaa? my wife uses kazzaa and winmx and gets quite a bit of fragmentation depending on how much she downloads. Personally I was not impressed with Nortons speed disk performance in XP. I currently use diskkeeper which is fast adn does an excellent job.
  3. cogenmaster

    cogenmaster TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 117


    I use WinMx occasionally but not to often since it really sucks now. Is that defragging program freeware?
  4. iss

    iss TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 1,994

    Diskeeper lite is freeware you can get it at
  5. Deception`

    Deception` TS Rookie

    NTFS is a better filesystem; however, it gets fragmented with a lot of file usage (downloads or simple moving), so its good to fragment often. The more you do it, the better. I use my computer to play q3 online and I have a lot of programs so I defrag about once a week (if i remember) the default defrag program with XP runs fine - nothing like the WinME or older versions - and it doesnt slow down the computer in the process, either. My suggestion would be a good, THOROUGH scandisk followed by a defrag with the xp default, and see how your system runs afterwards.

    Edited because of language
  6. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    The file system itself has very little to do with fragmentation. This is caused more by the cluster size. A very large cluster size reduces fragmentation, but increases wasted disk space. A very small cluster size increases fragmentation, but saves wasted disk space. It's your choice. Cluster sizes do behave differently between each file system... You will probably see a better gain in performance in NTFS than FAT32 by increasing cluster size.

    When you format a partition/drive, Windows XP and 2000 will automatically make a decent decision on what cluster size to use for your drive. It compromises between fragmentation and wasted space, usually giving you okay performance and okay amounts of wasted space. The default for larger hard disks currently available today is 4kb. I'm not sure if this scales up with larger drives (500GB, 1TB etc..)

    IF you have converted a FAT volume to NTFS using Windows XP/2000's setup or by command line, then your NTFS cluster size is 512 bytes, which is very bad for fragmentation and speed! NTFS' peformance increases with larger cluster sizes, so it may be benficial to use a program like partition magic to resize your clusters. When converting FAT to NTFS, there is no way to choose or change cluster size using command prompt.. Windows sticks with the default 512 bytes. Also, once your cluster size is chosen, you cannot change it using tools supplied with Windows. You will have to use Partition Magic, Partition Expert or another 3rd party program. I strongly recommend backing up critical files in case something happens since cluster resizing doesn't always go smoothly.

    In summary
    • 512 byte clusters ==> Increases fragmenation, reduces wasted disk space. Slows NTFS' overall speed due to file system overhead.
    • 4kb or greater clusters ==> Reduces fragmentation, increases wasted disk space. Increases NTFS' overall speed due to reducded file system overhead.
    • Converting FAT32 to NTFS using Windows setup or command prompt automatically gives you 512 byte clusters.
    • There is no way to change the cluster size of a NTFS partition in Windows. You will have to use a 3rd party tool such as PowerQuest's Partition Magic or Acronis' Partition Expert... etc
  7. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    Oh, one more thing...

    I use Norton Speed disk. It seems to do a very good job of defragmenting NTFS and FAT volumes.. But I favor SpeedDisk over others because you can choose the arragement of your files (Allows you to choose what files get placed at the front or end of the volume, such as .zip files last or .exe files first). It is because of customized defrag strategy that I continue to choose it over other defraggers.

    It also defragments your pagefile and MFT table, which not all defragmenters do (Windows' built in defragger never does). I've heard good things about Diskeeper, but I have always been unimpressed with the program itself. I've used many other defragmenters and I always come back to Speed Disk.

    You should definitely get a defragger that supports MFT, pagefile and boot file defragmentation for a complete defrag. Diskeeper is one of these programs, as well as O&O Defragger (recommended freeware) and Diskeeper (Recommended, although I am not sure about the freeware version).

    Also, make sure you get a new one that supports NTFS, as not all do.
  8. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    You should also consider a separate partition for downloading stuff because simultaneous downloads result in very bad fragmentation when using programs that don't preallocate the disk space.

    As Rick said Speed Disk is very good since you can choose the location of files.
  9. cogenmaster

    cogenmaster TS Enthusiast Topic Starter Posts: 117



    How do I determine what my cluster size is currently at? When I went to the NTFS file system it was done during a complete format of the hard drive, I did not convert the drive from FAT. Also does any of the Norton software redefine the cluster size, I have Norton System Works and Norton Ghost. Thanks.
  10. Rick

    Rick TechSpot Staff Posts: 4,572   +65

    No Norton software changes cluster size as far as I know of. To do so (I am guessing), requires that the entire file system be rewritten much like partitioning.. So for this reason, I think most partitioning software should include an option to convert cluster size.

    If your drive is of reasonable size (13gb or more I believe), your cluster size will be 4kb. This is the standard and probably the best compromise between wasted space and fragmentation. If you would like to try 16kb, then you will have to get a program that allows "safe" repartitioning.. Safe meaning that the program keeps all your data, but allows you to change your partitions.
  11. Nodsu

    Nodsu TS Rookie Posts: 5,837   +6

    4KB is the default cluster size for NTFS partitions created by Windows.

    You can easily determine the cluster size of a partition. Right click on a a very small file (e.g. less than 2 kilobytes) and select properties. The "Size on disk" value says how big a cluster is because the cluster is the smallest allocation unit on disk and any file smaller than 1 cluster will occupy exactly 1 cluster.

    Excellent software that lets you resize clusters without destroying data (in most cases anyway :p) is Partition Magic. Version 8.0 supports resizing clusters on a NTFS partition.
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