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Solved: Padding the MFT for NTFS Systems.

Discussion in 'Tech Tips and Reviews' started by RAM-PAGE, Feb 11, 2005.

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  1. RAM-PAGE

    RAM-PAGE Banned Thread Starter

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  2. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

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    Hopefully we are not turning into an advertising forum for individual products. I like Diskeeper, as well as a lot of other products, but never thought to post reviews of them.
     
  3. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

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    I like Windows also but would also not like to see any Windows advertisements posted either.
     
  4. WhitPhil

    WhitPhil Gone but never forgotten Trusted Advisor

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    Well, now that you believe that this IS a tip, please use THIS thread to explain the benefits.

    ESPECIALLY, how padding the MFT zone when it isn't completedly allocated, provides any increase in performance.

    The link says nothing about this, yet you continue to recommend it.
     
  5. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

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    WhitPhil,

    I also await for Rampage's responses to this and other claims being made around this forum. So far none have been answered with other than tangents to more misinformation, more misinformation or cutsie little remarks that do nothing but clarify the level of technical expertise.
     
  6. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

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    Other things that can help performance:

    1. Faster hard drive. While earlier ones spun at 5400 rpm, it is relatively easy to get ones that spin at 7200 or 10,000 rpm's. If you do the math, you will see what a dramatic increase in performance you can get for relatively little cost.

    2. Better video card if using a lot of graphic intensive applications. These often can have their own processor which helps reduce the load.

    3. Faster processor - This should go without saying.

    4. General file cleanup - Especially the user's TEMP directory.

    5. Regular spyware and virus scans - One of the big tip off's lately for being infected is a sudden drop in performance.
     
  7. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

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    Rampage,

    Not sure who or what you are referring to.

    Seems like a question was raised about how, in previously mentioned claims in other posts, padding the MFT zone when it isn't completedly allocated, provides any increase in performance. This would be good information to provide.
     
  8. WhitPhil

    WhitPhil Gone but never forgotten Trusted Advisor

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    Ok, I'll ask again.

    The "incessant" commentary, is an attempt to get you to respond to a simple question.

    Which is:

    If the MFT zone is NOT completely in use, why does padding it have any affect on performance. (as you are indicating)
     
  9. RAM-PAGE

    RAM-PAGE Banned Thread Starter

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    Having tried the product, an educated guess would say that pre-allocating space in the MFT allows for things, especially on-line games, to have a reference point available in advance of being downloaded to the drive.

    I was hoping that a clear technical statement would be made by the manufacturers of Frag-Shield, but I can't find one to date.
     
  10. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

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    Is there a way to provide more technically information than just making a guess?

    For example, is there any documentation you can provide? Otherwise the claim that padding the MFT zone when it isn't completedly allocated, provides any increase in performance seems like it is on a bit of thin ice (if that phrase is understood).
     
  11. RAM-PAGE

    RAM-PAGE Banned Thread Starter

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    If the MFT is 99% full then there will be an increase in fragmentation. An increase in fragmentation leads to a decrease in performance.

    From Diskeeper 9 Professional Help

    " Frag Shield
    Note: This feature is only available when Diskeeper is running on Windows NT 4.0, Windows 2000, Windows XP, and Windows Server 2003.

    Also Note: The Frag Shield option is not available in Diskeeper Home Edition.

    Use the Configure MFT/paging file option in the Change your settings menu to open the Frag Shield dialog. (This option is also available from the Action menu.) Follow the instruction displayed to configure your MFTs and paging files.

    Frag Shield helps you configure your MFTs and paging files as recommended in published Microsoft guidelines. Following these recommendations will help keep these critical system files contiguous.

    Frag Shield is comprised of two components: the MFT configuration tool and the paging file configuration tool. These tools allow you to set up your paging file(s) and MFT(s) such that fragmentation will be very unlikely to occur in the future.

    After running Frag Shield once, data gathered by Diskeeper during future analysis and defragmentation jobs as well as data gathered periodically on paging file usage is used to determine if either configuration tool should be run again. Should the need arise to run either tool again, you are given a recommendation and are provided a link to easily access the appropriate tool. In most cases, once these tools are run they will not be needed again.

    Note that any scheduled defragmentation jobs are temporarily suspended when the Frag Shield dialog is opened. Also note that any running Diskeeper defragmentation engines will be automatically stopped before Frag Shield makes any changes to your computer configuration.

    Configuring the MFT
    The Master File Table (MFT) is, in a sense, a file containing records about each file on an NTFS disk volume. In general terms, one file record exists in the MFT for each file on the volume. (There are exceptions to this. For example, a highly-fragmented file can require multiple file records in the MFT to store the information about the many fragments that make up the file.) When an NTFS volume is first created, Windows reserves a portion of the volume for the MFT. As files are added to the disk volume, the MFT grows as additional file records are added to it. As the disk fills, it is possible for the MFT to outgrow the space originally reserved for it. When this happens, additional new space is reserved for the MFT, but this new space is usually not adjacent to the original MFT zone. This is the cause of MFT fragmentation.

    Also, when free space becomes too low, files get written into the space reserved for the MFT, thus causing the MFT to eventually expand around these files in a fragmented manner. This is another common cause of MFT fragmentation.

    The MFT configuration tool helps pre-extend the MFT in a contiguous manner, so future growth of the MFT will not result in fragmented extensions of the file. Approximately one spare file record is needed for each file that will occupy the volume in the future. The number of file records to add is determined in one of two ways:

    Frag Shield recommends the size increase based on the estimated number of files that could occupy the volume. This estimate is based on the current average file size and amount of available free space.

    You can enter in how many files you estimate will potentially occupy the volume.

    Tip: Pre-extending the MFT can be beneficial in the early stages of setting up a computer system, including cases where you are creating “images” of the system to deploy to other computers.

    Once the number of file records to add has been determined, Frag Shield ensures it is safe to add these records. In other words, there must be adequate free space in the volume (20% after the MFT has been expanded) and if adding the records would fragment the MFT, or the MFT is already too fragmented, then the MFT is defragmented and/or files are moved to allow the MFT to extend continuously. (Windows NT and Windows 2000 require MFT defragmentation be done at boot-time.)

    On an ongoing basis, whenever analysis and defragmentation of the volume is done, the percentage of free MFT space is checked and if it is beyond a certain percentage of use, the Reliability pane shows this information, recommends the MFT configuration tool be run again, and provides a link to run the tool.

    Note: Once the MFT is extended, it cannot be reduced in size without reformatting the volume.

    Configuring Paging Files
    The paging file is an area of a disk set aside to temporarily hold data intended to reside in computer memory. As the operating system needs physical memory (RAM), it temporarily moves less-used data from the RAM to the hard disk. Data is copied back and forth between the paging file and the system memory as needed. This is known as “paging” or “swapping”.

    When Windows is first installed, a paging file is initially created based on the amount of physical memory (RAM) detected on your computer. Windows establishes both an initial and a maximum size for the paging file. Over time, this default paging file can become too small, so Windows extends the file, often in a non-contiguous manner. When the paging file becomes fragmented, it takes the operating system longer to move data into and out of the paging file, thus slowing the computer.

    The Frag Shield paging file configuration tool helps you set the paging file size correctly and handles any fragmentation incurred during the process. By specifying a correct size for the paging file, you allow it to handle all the memory needs of the system without needing for it to grow and potentially fragment as a result. Since the paging file can only be defragmented when the computer boots, it is especially beneficial to prevent it from fragmenting.

    One possible solution to paging file fragmentation is to choose a size for the paging file that is large enough to accommodate current and future memory needs in such a way that it would never grow, then set the initial and the maximum paging file sizes to this value. The main disadvantage to this approach is that it could increase the paging file size unnecessarily, thus robbing you of disk space.

    Microsoft recommends the following method to determine the appropriate size of a paging file:

    “You can also determine the appropriate size of a paging file by multiplying the Paging File\% Usage Peak counter value by the size of Pagefile.sys. The % Usage Peak counter indicates how much of the paging file is being used. Consider expanding the page file whenever either this counter reaches 70 percent of the total size in bytes of all paging files or the Memory\% Committed Bytes In Use counter reaches 85 percent, whichever occurs first.”

    Frag Shield monitors these counters to periodically compute the appropriate size of the paging file. When you open Frag Shield, and whenever a defragmentation or analysis is done, Frag Shield uses the collected paging file usage data to make a recommendation as to whether the paging file minimum size and maximum size should be expanded, and by how much. You are given other basic statistical data regarding your memory usage and can elect to use the recommendation or choose different values for the initial and maximum paging file sizes.

    When you choose to make size changes to the paging file, the paging file configuration tool determines if a reboot or defragmentation is needed and takes the necessary actions.

    As a note, you might occasionally open a very large file or open many files at once, which will expand the paging file. Later, the operating system will reduce the page file in size. Thus, in this case it is beneficial to have a different initial and maximum paging file size, as it allows it to only take up space on the disk as needed. If expanding the page file under these circumstances would fragment it, when it is reduced in size again the extra fragments would be eliminated due to the size reduction. Therefore, some expansion and contraction is useful and does not cause any long term fragmentation.

    On an ongoing basis, whenever analysis and defragmentation of the volume is done, the calculated optimum page file size is checked against the current page file size. If the current size is determined inadequate, the Reliability pane shows this information, recommends the page file configuration tool be run again, and provides a link to run it."


    What does thin ice have to do with it?
     
  12. WhitPhil

    WhitPhil Gone but never forgotten Trusted Advisor

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    But, there is already preallocated space, called the MFT zone, that allows for expansion.

    This frag shield is just making this larger.

    What are you referring to as a "reference point"? This "pad"? The "MFT"?
     
  13. RAM-PAGE

    RAM-PAGE Banned Thread Starter

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    I'll leave it there.
     
  14. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

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    That's part of the continuing problem, you leave it. WhitPhil has good points which fail to be addressed.

    In general it sound like you have a real like for Diskeeper, some undocumented succss, and want to push that as the solution for an amazing amount of problems. But given the way responses are being handled, it is somewhat difficult to believe it could solve that many issues.

    Can you maybe give specific performance results before, exactly what was done, and then performance results afterwards.
     
  15. Bob Cerelli

    Bob Cerelli

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    From another of your posts:

    "In fact, six out of ten drives, this week alone, needed to have the MFT adjusted by Frag-Shield.

    All have improved performance."

    In addition to text files from a vendor, which in this case would be expected to claim their product to enhance a computer's performance:

    What were the specific performance parameter to measure this.
    What was the value before any changes were made
    What were all the changes made
    What were the the values after these changes
     
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