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NTFS and fragmentation

Before I fall into the typical blog trap of talking about my random ire of the day (night?), I should say something related to VirtualDub. Generally, hard drive partitions that are formatted with NTFS have slightly slower write performance than partitions formatted with the FAT32 file system. If you are doing video capture, or similar manipulation of video files that requires high disk bandwidth, consider using FAT32 instead of NTFS, especially for temporary files for which it isn't a big deal if they are lost in a system failure (if your video capture is interrupted, you're not likely to need the partial file anyway).

Okay, now for ire.

It's fairly well known that the NT file system (NTFS) is very bad at avoiding fragmentation, partly due to its allocation strategy of intentionally placing tiny gaps between files — which is good if those files expand, but bad if they don't. Today, I see this in a fragmentation analysis report of my hard drive:

Fragments   File Size   Name
      111       444KB   WINDOWS\$NtServicePackUninstall$

The cluster size of the hard drive partition is 4K. This means that NTFS has successfully managed to create a huge directory in which not a single pair of clusters are sequential. I used to think that the Amiga standard file system was bad, but this takes the cake.


This blog was originally open for comments when this entry was first posted, but was later closed and then removed due to spam and after a migration away from the original blog software. Unfortunately, it would have been a lot of work to reformat the comments to republish them. The author thanks everyone who posted comments and added to the discussion.