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  1. #16
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    "... all us guys who got started with computing in the Dark Ages had the defrag habit drilled into us and we all know about old habits!"
    Sigh! That string of white hair is a reminder every morning ...
    Now, the 'urge' to defrag too?
    Seriously, I'll not do defrag on big volume hard drive again. Not worth the risk.
    Don't wanna fix something that is not broken (or shows slow-down).

  2. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaisson View Post
    Please recommend a good (must be safe) hard drive defrag software.

    Had defrag nightmare the day after Turkey dinner/Black Friday.
    Making it worse, the drive was a 2TB all-data drive (SATA connected). Space left=about 400G.
    Story:
    The frequent accessed drive was too fragmented.
    Defragged with a known good free 'reliable' program ... [be 'gentle' re 'free']
    Took too long (over 24 hours). Must stop for immediate work. Stop properly per the application. No more defraq after that.
    More than 2 weeks past, the hard drive was suddenly not available. Symptom: not accessible by Windows. Drive letter disappeared.
    Diagnosis:
    Hardware-wise OK.
    Found file table corrupted, including the twin copy! Hence, unable to recover.

    Had to do lengthy data recovery ... on a 2TB drive. Had backup but new data must be recovered.
    Hard drive reformatted; still works.

    Defrag software recommendation highly appreciated.

    First question - are the two events related? From what you've told us, I don't think so. There is no way a Hard Disk can survive for 2 weeks working properly - and then suddenly "go away" - from an event that was 2 weeks previous. The MFT on NTFS drives simply doesn't work that way.

    The highest probability is that something went sideways on that drive just shortly before it "disappeared". And that something had nothing to do with the defrag operation 2 weeks previous.


    Now, does this mean all defrag operations are perfection incarnate? Of course not. However, the problem is of a different kind. Each defrag software package has its strengths and weaknesses. The defrag software packaged with Windows is an obsolete and Microsoft-sanitized version of DiskKeeper (sanitizing means it contains no references to DiskKeeper itself - you'd think it was Microsoft-developed software from the look - but it's not). This software (because it's old) has a bunch of limitations. The most important one is it does not work well with only a small amount of free space available. Anything less than 10%-20% of the drive free - and it's as slow as molasses. The other thing is it does not properly handle defragmentation of NTFS Metadata - and thus leaves this info scattered all over your hard disk - causing almost-immediate-refragmentation after a defrag run.

    If you look through the feature-list of the "free" Third-Party Defragmentation Utilities - you will find they usually don't support Metadata defragmentation. Without this, I don't think there's much point in doing defrag as a preventative measure - as the drive refragments so quickly I consider it almost pointless.

    Note: This is one of the reasons W7/W8 do a "background defrag" every 3 days - using the Microsoft-supplied Defrag Utility. Nice try - no cigar.


    Thus we come to "commercial" Third-Party Defragmentation Utilities. When I researched these - I found many of them also did not defragment the NTFS Metadata. There were two standouts in this regard - PerfectDisk and Ultimate Defrag. I own the latest licences for both.

    Of the two, PerfectDisk is by far the faster defragger. It also has the ability to continuously detect when defragmentation is required - and "keep out of the way" otherwise. It also has a feature that attempts to ensure drive writes go in the proper places to prevent quick refragmentation. I use this software on my W7 boxes.

    Ultimate Defrag has a unique feature I really appreciate. It has the ability to move the NTFS MFT and its associated Metadata to any desired location on the Hard Disk. Thus, you can move the entire piece of the Hard Disk associated with "file housekeeping" somewhere out of the way of all the data on the machine - so the creation of new metadata when new files are created is the only thing that can cause refragmentation. I wish PerfectDisk had this feature. The problem with Ultimate Defrag is it's really slow. What PerfectDisk does in 20 minutes takes 2 Hours with Ultimate Defrag. However, Ultimate Defrag does a much more thorough defragmentation job than PerfectDisk when it comes to the "technical definition" of defragmentation - albeit with the consequent real-world performance penalty.

    Both PerfectDisk and Ultimate Defrag properly announce the delay inherent in stopping a defrag operation in progress. Both programs take several seconds to continue the defrag to the point where it can safely be stopped - and this shows in their GUI Windows during the "stop" operation. Neither program will let you "do anything" while the "stop" is in progress - which is proper and correct operation. Both PerfectDisk and Ultimate Defrag use the Windows API to do defragmentation operations while Windows is running - which is the safest way to perform defragmentation. They both have "Boot Defrag" capabilities that perform the MFT and/or Metadata "housekeeping" - which cannot be performed while Windows is running when using the current Windows defragmentation API.

    If I had to pick one - PerfectDisk. I haven't found anything else on the market that touches it - when it comes to the comprehensiveness of its disk-housekeeping prowess. It has a compatibility issue with Zentimo (another piece of software I use) - but only with certain Hard Disk controllers (Silicon Image) and under certain conditions. This prompted a search for alternatives for the machines I own which use SIL hardware - which was how I found Ultimate Defrag. Therefore, I use Ultimate Defrag on machines where PerfectDisk gives me trouble - and PerfectDisk everywhere else.


    Hope this helps.
    Last edited by twixt; 2014-01-21 at 15:47.

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    ruirib (2014-01-21),scaisson (2014-01-24)

  4. #18
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    Thanks for the response, twixt.
    Good info; if it does not defrag metadata, why defrag?

    Has free trial version of PerfectDisk?

    Re the 2 events, incomplete defrag + hdd died 2 weeks later, and your comment that the 2 events may not be related.

    There was no concrete CSI proof. The drive is still spinning. If I want, I can reformat it to as good as new.
    Maybe we should never stop defrag before it completes; their manuals warn so.

    The PC and all devices continue to work as usual. The 2TB was the only device that died. MFT was corrupted, as well as its copy. It is still spinning. Files in it are recoverable by software means.
    Based on my investigation, it points to incomplete defrag.

    I recognize my guess is as good as yours. But the evidence, though seems impossible, is the possible outcome.
    Moreover, Terabyte is a new territory. MFT size could be huge and hard to manage.

    I could make one statement on the incident though: heed their warning, do NOT stop the defrag process.
    Or, no defrag at all (for huge drive).

    Does anyone know a way to backup MFT?

  5. #19
    3 Star Lounger bassfisher6522's Avatar
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    I prefer to use Auslogics disk defrag and it's a MS partner.

    http://www.auslogics.com/en/software/disk-defrag/
    Last edited by bassfisher6522; 2014-01-24 at 13:41.

  6. #20
    Silver Lounger mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaisson View Post
    Light bulb lights up!
    I should have just make file copy to another hard drive (aka lowest form of backup). Quick format the drive. Then copy back files. Voila! Completely defrag 2TB, 100% perfect. Much less than than 24 hours as well.
    You're right; a simple file copy to another drive, then quick formatting the original drive, then copying everything back, will give you a perfect and quick defrag.

    Best of all, it is extremely simple. And you have a backup copy of your files on the other drive.

    Often we do things the hard way; it's usually better to keep it simple, in my opinion.

    Another simple way to defrag, which should work if you have enough drive space:

    Create a folder on your drive, and call it "defrag". Copy everything on the drive into that folder. Erase the original copy of everything. Move the copy back to the original location. The copy process will reassemble all of the fragments into whole files, so I don't see why this method wouldn't also work just as well as using a separate drive.
    Last edited by mrjimphelps; 2014-01-24 at 11:59.

  7. #21
    Super Moderator RetiredGeek's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mrjimphelps View Post
    Create a folder on your drive, and call it "defrag". Copy everything on the drive into that folder. Erase the original copy of everything. Move the copy back to the original location. The copy process will reassemble all of the fragments into whole files, so I don't see why this method wouldn't also work just as well as using a separate drive.
    Jim,

    I don't think this will work as I understand disk usage. See illustration.
    DiskCOpy.JPG
    Note: on the New Folder copy line the blank space is the space still occupied by the originals and on the Copy back line the empty space is occupied by the new folder until it is erased.

    Also note that for simplicity I didn't show a fragmented file only fragmented disk. However, the principle should still apply.

    HTH
    May the Forces of good computing be with you!

    RG

    VBA Rules!

    My Systems: Desktop Specs
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  8. #22
    Silver Lounger mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    Yeah, you're right. A fragmented drive will have the fragments spread all over the drive, thereby resulting in there not being a big enough contiguous block of space to use as the work space.

    And even if there was a big enough contiguous block of space, Windows would first fill in the empty spaces, then the contiguous block of space.

    You will have to use an empty drive as the target for the initial copy operation.

  9. #23
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    Ya, it doesn't really copy when you change folders on the same drive/partition, it just changes the location index. Another drive or partition would suffice but then how would one assure contiguous space for the file/folder if copied back (even a defrag insertion may not suffice)? So I think the only way is different drive/partition AND formatted free space on return destination.
    Sent from Windows ME thru Opera 10.63...just before they crashe

  10. #24
    Silver Lounger mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    In my view, if you have only data on your drive, and you want to defragment that drive, there is no better, safer, and simpler way than copying all of the data to a different, clean drive, then wiping (formatting) the original drive, then copying all of the data back to it.

  11. #25
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    "In my view, if you have only data on your drive, and you want to defragment that drive, there is no better, safer, and simpler way than copying all of the data to a different, clean drive, then wiping (formatting) the original drive, then copying all of the data back to it. "

    I did that! Fragmentation check: 0%. Hard drive is 2TB. Data 1.3TB. Performance gain? Not numerically significant. But I 'feel' it's faster! Science vs psych! Nothing better than a psycho uplifting.
    Yes, must be wholesale copy. Then quick format the entire hdd. Lastly, copy all back.

  12. #26
    Silver Lounger mrjimphelps's Avatar
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    When you copy files to a clean, empty hard drive, the copy process will reassemble the file pieces into complete files as it is writing the files to the target drive. This happens because there are no empty spaces on the target drive, but rather the whole thing is empty. If there is data on the target drive, Windows will try to fill in the empty spaces with the incoming data, refragmenting your data. But since the target drive is empty, there are no little spaces to fill up; the whole drive is one big empty space.

    So that step alone defragments your files.

    In order to prevent fragmentation when you copy them back to the original drive, you must first empty the drive, to eliminate the empty spaces between pieces of files. With one big chunk of empty space, Windows can write the files as single pieces, because there are no spaces to fill up.

  13. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by scaisson View Post
    Thanks for the response, twixt.
    Good info; if it does not defrag metadata, why defrag?

    Has free trial version of PerfectDisk?

    Re the 2 events, incomplete defrag + hdd died 2 weeks later, and your comment that the 2 events may not be related.

    There was no concrete CSI proof. The drive is still spinning. If I want, I can reformat it to as good as new.
    Maybe we should never stop defrag before it completes; their manuals warn so.

    The PC and all devices continue to work as usual. The 2TB was the only device that died. MFT was corrupted, as well as its copy. It is still spinning. Files in it are recoverable by software means.
    Based on my investigation, it points to incomplete defrag.

    I recognize my guess is as good as yours. But the evidence, though seems impossible, is the possible outcome.
    Moreover, Terabyte is a new territory. MFT size could be huge and hard to manage.

    I could make one statement on the incident though: heed their warning, do NOT stop the defrag process.
    Or, no defrag at all (for huge drive).

    Does anyone know a way to backup MFT?

    Hi. I've been away. To answer your questions:


    1. Yes, PerfectDisk has a 30-day free trial version. I used this myself to validate the product when I first started using PerfectDisk.


    2. Manually stopping defrag operations in the middle of a PerfectDisk defrag has always terminated safely for me. I have tested this many many times. The GUI tells you processing is continuing while it is finalizing - before giving you back your machine. I have never lost data. Even in those situations where I ran into compatibility problems which bluescreened the two machines with SIL Add-On PCI SATA Controller cards (which are notoriously flaky under certain conditions) - everything came back cleanly after the bluescreen reboots. I've really beaten this program up - it hasn't led to data loss when I've had things happen unexpectedly.

    That doesn't mean I don't do complete Image backups on a regular basis. But so far at least - I haven't had a "gotcha" from PerfectDisk. Still gonna do my backups...


    3. Terabyte disks are old hat for PerfectDisk. They've been dealing with large disk support for years now - through multiple generations of product - using both MFT and GPT. See the "About Us" page at the PerfectDisk website for some history on Raxco as a company. Lots of firsts regarding large disk support - therefore the longest real-world experience with supporting large disks in both Corporate and Consumer environments. BTW, PerfectDisk does not charge extra for large disk support.

    Note: Both PerfectDisk and Ultimate Defrag consolidate the MFT during Defrag - and add sufficient free space after the MFT to allow the MFT to "grow" without refragmenting due to file-create operations. No "bits and pieces" of the MFT strewn all over the disk. Ultimate Defrag even allows you to manually adjust the size of the MFT "free block" if you wish. If you have some idea of the future of that drive and the number of files you expect to put on it (Eg: Backup drive with only a small number of large files) you can tell Ultimate Defrag to shrink the size of the MFT "free block" down to nearly nothing - because you know the number of files on that drive is always going to be small - which is exactly correct for backup drives.


    4. The MFT is automatically "mirrored" as part of normal NTFS operations. Using the Microsoft Defragmentation API - it is "supposed to be impossible" to corrupt both the main copy of the MFT and its mirror - concurrently. As far as I am aware - it takes two failed write operations sequentially - one which corrupts the main copy of the MFT and another which corrupts the mirror - with no automatic recognition of the original MFT write failure in between - to cause the circumstance you describe.

    Things to check: Intel's OROM and Driver support for the ICH5R and later has been notoriously unstable - and has led to data loss with older versions of the OROM and the drivers. This is especially true for the ICH5R through ICH9R controllers - with their associated OROMs and drivers. Early versions of the ICH10R OROM and driver are also suspect - but failures here more commonly cause spontaneous lockup without data loss. It's still annoying. It is highly recommended to upgrade the ICHxxR OROM and the IAA/Matrix/RST Driver to the latest version supported for your particular Intel Hard Disk Controller Chipset - above and beyond what is shown at the Motherboard Manufacturer's website.

    Note: I have personal experience with the above regarding Intel's own D875PBZ motherboard and the Asus P5Q and P5Q3 motherboards. The drivers on the Intel/Asus websites for those specific board models are completely out-of-date - compared to the OROMs and Drivers available from the dedicated Intel websites for those chipsets and drivers. The same situation applies for Marvell, JMicron and SIL Hard Disk Controllers - and their ESATA/RAID support.

    On the Asus Systems - I updated the BIOS insert for the Intel OROM in the latest unmodified ASUS BIOS to Version 10.1.0.1008 (later versions than this also need investigation). I also updated the Marvell OROM from Version 1.2.0.L70d in the latest unmodified ASUS BIOS to Version 1.2.0.L73 (L75 needs investigation). I am using these with the Intel RST 11.7.0.1013 Drivers (latest I've found so far for the ICH10R Chipset) which replace the stock Asus-provided 8.6.0.1023 drivers. I also use the Marvell 1.2.0.8300 Drivers (8400 requires investigation) which replace the stock Asus-provided 1.2.0.68 drivers.


    If you are using older versions of these BIOS inserts and drivers - look at the long and bloody history of spontaneous disk (especially SSD) corruption due to stability problems with earlier BIOS inserts (OROM) and earlier driver versions. Those manufacturers didn't go through all those dozens and dozens of revs - with all that associated embarrassment - for no reason. Google: intel RST bug


    Hope this helps.

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  15. #28
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    @Twixt, thanks for the valuable info re outdated drivers. The related motherboard *is* Intel chip set.
    I save the corrupted hard drive untouched. I want to learn more of the failure in the near future.
    As mentioned before, both copies of MFT were corrupted. I was like you: "Not possible."
    Now that you mention Intel/Marvell drivers, it gives me a pointer to start the investigation.
    I have friends working at Marvell. If it is them, I'll give them a earful.
    For those interested:
    RST: Intel Rapid Storage Technology
    OROM: Option ROM

  16. #29
    Super Moderator satrow's Avatar
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    My preference for Intel SATA chipset drivers is the default Microsoft W7 and later, it does use some of the Intel drivers, allows TRIM on SSDs, etc., and can be faster than the IntelRST drivers (which may not be the 'correct' or best drivers anyway, RST primarily being for SSD caching, if my understanding is correct).

    Marvell/JRaid etc. chipsets, I don't connect anything to and disable them in the BIOS.

    I've seen PerfectDisk triggering BSODs when set to defrag at boot time and IntelRST drivers also implicated in causing BSODs.

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    What is wrong with the microsoft version?

    Why not just let it run till it is finished??
    I let mine run all weekend once doing a similar task.
    Better to avoid problems than to fix them.


    Add another HD and move a lot of the data and less used programs first.
    Then defrag the original disk.
    Then move the data back if you cant use it on the second one.


    Quote Originally Posted by scaisson View Post
    Please recommend a good (must be safe) hard drive defrag software.

    Had defrag nightmare the day after Turkey dinner/Black Friday.
    Making it worse, the drive was a 2TB all-data drive (SATA connected). Space left=about 400G.
    Story:
    The frequent accessed drive was too fragmented.
    Defragged with a known good free 'reliable' program ... [be 'gentle' re 'free']
    Took too long (over 24 hours). Must stop for immediate work. Stop properly per the application. No more defraq after that.
    More than 2 weeks past, the hard drive was suddenly not available. Symptom: not accessible by Windows. Drive letter disappeared.
    Diagnosis:
    Hardware-wise OK.
    Found file table corrupted, including the twin copy! Hence, unable to recover.

    Had to do lengthy data recovery ... on a 2TB drive. Had backup but new data must be recovered.
    Hard drive reformatted; still works.

    Defrag software recommendation highly appreciated.

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