Defragging disks.

farss wrote on 12/8/2004, 10:12 PM
Being the good little Vegemite that I am, no that's not true, OK, when I start feeling guilty about how I mistreat my disks I put aside a few hours overnight to defrag them.
However I'm kind of thinking it's all a bit of a waste. It's nice to have all the files contiguous however that still leaves lots of little spaces waiting to soak up fragmented bits of my next capture. Now some time ago I tried the trial version of Perfect Disk.
It did seem miles better than the vanilla defrag if you're working with large files as it optimises the empty space as well.
So my question is, does anyone find doing more than just the basic defrag helps, if so what to use or am I worrying over nothing?


PeterWright wrote on 12/8/2004, 10:25 PM
I've got Perfect Disk Bob, but I must admit I haven't done any defragging for ages.
It has an auto defragger built in where you can schedule exactly when you defrag which drive, but I haven't found time to learn how yet!
I'm sure in critical situations it makes a difference, and maybe HDV will be more critical soon, but defragging has mainly just made me feel I've been good, a bit like going to church used to.
Grazie wrote on 12/8/2004, 10:27 PM
"So my question is, does anyone find doing more than just the basic defrag helps, . . " . . Defrag the system HD does help IF there is plenty of fragmentation. BUT this too is a trade off .. sometimes NOT defragging keeps a HD workling well. Defragging only brings together files that are not . . well .. fragged! Meaning that files that wree close to another "needed" file are now waaayyyy over there - in HD digital terms - and the hd does a lot of work "searching for it . . . there is a kinda klaw of diminishing returns. So a nbit of common semnse needs to come into play here . .. BETTER remove rubbish off the system and keep it lean and mean . . Ok, that;s the Sys HD . .

" . .. if so what to use or am I worrying over nothing?" . .. well not exactly . . Media splashed all over the place can get you long reach-to reaching times. I've tried defrag on media, but now that I have enough empty space I do a Cut *.* to a folder on a BIG drive, this makes for an empty drive .. bit scary this bit . . then a Cut all files back to the drive. This may be quicker than a defrag, but kinda feels "belt 'n braces" over defrag .. .

Bob, did you understand any of the above? . . I'm no PC tech, stating the *&^$£ obvious here, but I do try and find the easiest way to deal with what we do in a sensible and straight forward way - yeah?

Others will swear by NoName Defrag product .. but I've also heard of bad things happenning too! I stick with Windoze and be done with it!

farss wrote on 12/8/2004, 10:44 PM
the point is after you defrag there's still little holes. When you write a large file to the disk it gets split up into the little holes.
If you also make the disk so all the empty space is in one chunk then it doesn't get fragmented again so easily.
Grazie wrote on 12/8/2004, 10:52 PM
Oh! . . what about doing the total transfer thing I outlined?
farss wrote on 12/9/2004, 12:17 AM
Well yes that's one way to do it. We used to do that years ago on a system called Versados. It insisted that all executable files had to be in a contiguous space. So after a while you'd find even though your disk was only half full you couldn't copy a .ro file onto it. SO the fix was to copy all the files onto an empty drive. What a pain, drive were a LOT slower back then.
Chienworks wrote on 12/9/2004, 3:36 AM
Definately go with the "copy to another drive" method. It's vastly faster than any defrag program, and it's actually safer since you're making a copy rather than moving blocks around. It's also a LOT less wear and tear on the drives.

For that matter, drives are so fast these days that fragmentation really isn't a problem even to moderately extreme levels. I've let my drives reach over 35% fragmented (whatever that means ... it's a figure Windows reports) and seen no slowness in operation. DV files capture and play back without missing a frame, and that's on an 866MHz P3 with only a 100MHz ATA bus!

Defragging is dead. It's passed it's usefulness. Let it lie in peace.
farss wrote on 12/9/2004, 3:52 AM
I'm not so certain, oddly enough I'm suspecting it's more of an issue with lots of audio than video tracks. Vegas seems pretty smart when it comes to video, it just slows down the fps but audio as it can only be played back at full speed might be a different matter.

If you've got say 10 audio tracks scattered in bits all over the drive I'd imagine that's a pretty tall order pulling them back fast enough.

I noticed one of the HD audio recorders gets around the problem by writing all the tracks as one muxed stream thus avoiding so much head movement and major file fragmentation.

TheHappyFriar wrote on 12/9/2004, 7:52 AM
You know, back in college we had a dedicated "a/v" hard drive. It had a special defrag program that specificly moved all the empty space together. This was because when it captured. it would only capture a max file size of the largest empty block. So, moving all the blank together was a good thing.

But, now a days, it doesn't really matter (for the most part). The hard drives, controllers, system busses, processors, memory, etc. are now all so fast it's not really noticable.

But... defragging makes a BIG difference with many many file that are all over your harddrive. I've noticed a difference on my AMD XP 1800 w/a 80gb IDE & a 160gb IDE. Mostly with games & filelistings though. I've never had a problem with editing (maybe a dropped frame occationatly when it's gotta search the HD for a space to record the video).
Coursedesign wrote on 12/9/2004, 9:23 AM
Get Diskeeper with "Set It andForget It".

You install (very easy) and stop thinking about the problem. It is intelligent about how it does it, and it will not defrag "excessively."

I have used this for years on many machines, never a problem.
Read their article on defrag myths, good reading!
kentwolf wrote on 12/9/2004, 12:49 PM
>>...Get Diskeeper with "Set It andForget It"...

I have also used DiskKeeper for a long time and it's definitely the way to go.

I guess we're "due" for another defrag thread... :)
Grazie wrote on 12/9/2004, 12:51 PM
LOL! - Defrag comes around again. Very good! :) . . .Grazie
farss wrote on 12/9/2004, 12:57 PM
Glad to see I started something interesting.
Orcatek wrote on 12/9/2004, 2:29 PM
I use the built in defrag, which you can schedule if you want - just need to know the commands. My boxes are always on, so the defrag every night.

Coursedesign wrote on 12/9/2004, 11:26 PM
Read the article on Diskeeper's web site, it will tell you what you are missing.
nickle wrote on 12/9/2004, 11:37 PM
I'll 3rd it for diskeeper.

It is fast but I still don't set it and forget it because I like to know what is going on in the background.

But I do continue working while it defrags.
wobblyboy wrote on 12/9/2004, 11:57 PM
I like Diskeeper too.
r56 wrote on 12/10/2004, 4:51 AM
I also use diskeeper and the method of "Improve Free Space" can only be used through "Set it and Forget it". I never use schedule for any program so to take advantage of the above defrag method I simply create a one-time schedule in Set it and Forget it with a setting of one hour earlier than current time and in less than a minute the program starts defragging. When it finishes I clear the schedule.
I never defrag video hard disks during editing sessions.
I defrag frequently the system disk because just by booting up XP Pro and shutting down, the number of small files created-changed-deleted is quite big.
scdragracing wrote on 12/10/2004, 1:52 PM
i was a pc network admin for years, i can tell you that chien got right.

if you built your pc correctly, you would have a dedicated video drive that uses the largest possible sector sizes... every time you finish a project, you delete the old files, so there is nothing to defrag.

if you use the chien method of doing a total drive restoration, the base operating system and apps will be permanently defragged... their position on the hard drive shouldn't move, unless you run a defrag program on 'em :-/

where you can get very minor gains in performance is possibly by tweaking where the swap file is physically located on the drive, because platter access is quicker on the outside of the disk... but i don't know if that is really possible with today's operating systems.
Coursedesign wrote on 12/10/2004, 4:53 PM
Of course it makes sense to have separate hard disks for the media, and it doesn't usually make much sense to defrag these.

Any Windows system drive however continually creates and writes small data files, and this leads to severe deterioration of disk performance over time. Defrag fixes this immediately.

Diskeeper runs at a very low priority, so if you do rendering or any work in Vegas, it will just take a break.
nickle wrote on 12/10/2004, 5:31 PM
Fine, I set it and forgot about it, but then I remembered it.
Maybe tomorrow I'll forget that I set it.
scdragracing wrote on 12/11/2004, 9:11 AM
you can easily set up windows up to delete the swap file every time the computer is shut down... the vast majority of used disk space is taken up by the apps themselves, and you just permanently defragged that using chien's method.

the data that gets created outside of the the apps is comparatively insignificant... and i would certainly not run any processes in the background, it's a waste of system resources regardless of the priority, because the o.s. still has to keep track of what's running... it takes up memory.
BillyBoy wrote on 12/11/2004, 9:52 AM
Defragging IS important for a reason some seem to be overlooking.

Your drives are the only real MECHANICAL part in your computer. As your drives get more fragemented, not only does system performance go down (less noticeable on high performance systems) your drives are working hard and suffering the WORST kind of torture, moving the read and write heads all over the place like crazy... the more fragemented, the more this happens. While defragging itself puts some strain on your drive because it runs awhile moviing all the sectors around, its comparative to your cruising down the highway. However forcing your drive to do lots of seeks to find all the parts of fragemented files is like start and stop driving... it really puts a strain on the drive and worse, over time this will cause the read and write heads to drift off alignment which can cause your drive to seem to fail.

I use the word "seem" since many so-called disk failures aren't actually the drive itself failing mechanically, rather the read and write head no longer being properly alligned (due to all the excess movement seeking parts of fragements files) which can result in your sytem being unable to read one or more sectors of a file which is what you're really seeing on many so-called disk "failures".
Tattoo wrote on 12/16/2004, 3:57 PM
Having bought & used Diskkeeper (8.0, I think) for several months, and then tried Perfect Disk, I MUCH prefer Perfect Disk.

Diskkeeper is much better than the standard Windows defrag (a dumbed down version of Diskkeeper), but I had issues with it requiring multiple passes to "completely" defrag, requiring more free disk space than I had (over 15%), and I didn't like the lack of control that the "set it & forget it" setting caused (it'd start defragging in the middle of a video capture, which did cause some dropped frames on my system). It also caused my system to run Scan Disk on bootup too frequently for my tastes (I have 2 drives / 4 partitions total).

Perfect Disk requires less free space and does a complete job realigning all files on the first pass. I only used it once (trial version), but it did a great job. I didn't look into whether it had some type of "set it & forget it" option, or how that was meched, but I'm sure it at least has some type of scheduled defrag option.

If you're looking for a defrag program, I'd highly recommend Perfect Disk. It's not something that most people would buy if they already owned Diskkeeper, but I am going to.

farss wrote on 12/16/2004, 4:06 PM
as a hardware guy from WAY back it's nice to hear from someone who takes pity on the little bits that are vital.