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Large hard drives and the case for Defragmenting ...

Defragmenting regularly will mean faster access to your data, not doing so will affect the performance of the hard drive the fuller it gets...

Why it is still important to use this tool with newer hard drives reaching the terabyte size, because you can store more data, cool, no?

Maybe, maybe not.

When you have a large amount of storage you tend to keep everything even if it is no longer needed or was junk when you collected it.

Then one day you decide to 'clean house' and start deleting all that 'junk' on your hard drive.

This is where using MS Defragment program vs. a third party comes in to play:

By defragmenting your hard drive with a third party program it may or may not defrag the Master File Table or MFT.

Why defrag the MFT? Because when you delete a large amount of data the MFT has 'holes' where the deleted file object data was stored, this increases the time it takes for reading and searching the MFT.

File object data has:

  • Name of file
  • Extension of file
  • Where the file was stored on the hard drive, the starting and ending sectors, if it was fragmented when it was written to the drive then all the connecting start and end sectors are there also.
  • A table entry that contains additional data such as
    •  The author of the file,
    •  Attributes for what program opens the file, date of creation, date of last modified.
    • In all there can be over 20 different entries for data about the file.

The best way to defrag the MFT is to use the built in MS Defragment program listed under either the Tools tab of the properties page or the Defragment section of the Computer Management console to do your Defragmenting.

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The MS Defragment program will remove all these 'holes' where the data of deleted files were and compress the MFT. This decreases the time it takes for say Explorer or your favorite file management program to read the MFT.

It also makes accessing your files faster.

NOTE: Using the defragment tool on a SSD (Solid State Drive) will corrupt the data to a point where you will have to delete all the partitions and recreate them, reload the Operating System, then restore your data (if you have a back up!).

If you use a third party defragment program and the access time to open a file didn't change chances are the program can not defragment the MFT, try the built in defragment program provided with the Operating System.


To answer a comment on the old question about being forced in to moving to a lager hard drive by his collection of video's and images. It isn't the number of files that you have it is the size that counts. With NTFS there is no limit to the entries in the Master File Table (MFT), the only limit is the size of the volume, when it is full it is full.

You should make folders vs. partitions because if you fill up the root of a volume with files it makes the file system work harder to find and list all the files in the root of a volume. Where as having a file system such as a filing cabinet with folders in each drawer the indexing of the files will take less time and follow a logical pattern. (Does this make sense?).

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I will say again: Defragmenting a SSD (Solid State Drive) will corrupt the data, use at your own peril...

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