Articles: Storage

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Testing Methodology

The conditions of the test should be created first. We did it by creating a greatly fragmented file structure with a total size of 23.83GB on a 32GB disk partition with a 4KB cluster. In other words, the partition was occupied by 75%:

Partition fragmentation

Partition parameters prior to defragmentation:

  • Volume size: 31.94GB
  • Cluster size: 4KB
  • Used space: 23.83GB
  • Free space: 8.11GB
  • Percent free space: 25%
  • Total fragmentation: 30%
  • File fragmentation: 61%
  • Free space fragmentation: 0%
  • Total files: 44593
  • Average file size: 649KB
  • Total fragmented files: 7050
  • Total excess fragments: 22361

We used GetSmart tool to transfer this partition sector by sector to the tested HDDs. Thus, we made sure the data was absolutely identical on each HDD because the per-sector transfer maintained the original structure of files within the partition.

After that, the tested HDD was attached to a SATA port of the following computer:

  • Intel Pentium 4 2.8GHz
  • 512MB DDR2-533 SDRAM
  • ASUS P5WD Premium mainboard
  • Samsung SP0411N as the system disk
  • Windows XP Professional SP2

Then, the following FC-Test script was launched on the PC:

Pause 120
Comment beginning
System defrag d: -f
Comment end

According to this script, the PC reboots, takes 120 seconds to load up everything necessary for the OS to run, puts a timestamp, launches the integrated Windows XP defragmenter in command prompt mode, and puts a second timestamp when the defragmenter is finished. Subtracting the first timestamp from the second one we find the duration of the defragmentation procedure on the tested HDD.

The disk map looked much better after defragmentation:

After defragmentation

It’s impossible to achieve an ideal disk structure, but it’s clear that the file structure improves greatly. Of course, you don’t often get such a horrible picture as our test partition on ordinary PCs, yet don’t forget to defragment your own HDD regularly, especially if you are often installing new software and your hard disk is over 50% full.

To check out the influence of NCQ technology on defragmentation speed, we performed our tests with AHCI support both enabled and disabled in the mainboard’s BIOS. We also tried to see the influence of the HDD capacity on defragmentation speed (large-capacity HDDs should theoretically perform better since the operating zone of the test is narrower on them due to the fixed size of the test partition and their heads have to travel a shorter distance). And finally, we checked out how the HDD’s quiet operation mode affected the speed of the defragmentation procedure.

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