How to defrag FAT32 free space under XP?
November 2, 2005 7:37 AM   Subscribe

Is there a decent free defragmenter for Windows XP?

I'm trying to defragment an 80GB FAT32 partition on a Windows XP box, with a view to creating a nice contiguous CVTAREA.TXT file somewhere near the start of the drive to force CONVERT /FS:NTFS to build an NTFS file system that doesn't suck.

I have used XP's inbuilt defragger many times over, until it refuses to do any more work; but every time I use "fsutil file createnew cvtarea.txt 2000000000" the new file ends up with hundreds of fragments.

I can defrag that one file with Sysinternals' "contig" tool, but that always moves the whole file up to the end of the drive. I want it near the front; there's only about 11GB of stuff on it at present, and I don't want to build an NTFS volume that spends all day seeking back and forth to its MFT.

What appears to be happening is that even after XP's own defragger has done all it's going to do, the FAT32 free-cluster list is not getting straightened out, so all the free space near the front of the drive is fragmented - which fragmentation is inherited by the first large file written.

This didn't happen with Win9X. I blame Microsoft's fancy schmancy new and underdocumented defragmentation API.

Short of installing Win98 on this box just to use its defragger, does anybody out there know of a free tool that can defrag the free space on a FAT32 partition under Windows XP?
posted by flabdablet to Computers & Internet (5 answers total)
Did you check out these threads?
posted by springload at 7:43 AM on November 2, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, springload! The Whitney Family defragger is now running on the box in question, and showing promising signs of rocking my world.
posted by flabdablet at 8:47 AM on November 2, 2005

Response by poster: Harrumph. So much for rocking my world. Not only does it take longer than the standard defrag, it still leaves the free space in such a mess that the next large file allocated has 36 fragments :(

posted by flabdablet at 1:31 PM on November 2, 2005

That is depressing flabdablet... Just know that neither O&O defrag nor diskkeeper are the solution, although a combination of Whitney Family with one of those two might have interesting results.
posted by Chuckles at 2:47 PM on November 2, 2005

It's not so much a question of defragmentation, as it is changing the default sector size from the 512 byte FAT 32 default it probably is, to the 4K sectors WinXP NTFS generally wants on a volume of your size. To do that, you need to move your DOS data to align with a 4K sector boundary, before you convert. Here's a shareware utility called BootIT NG with a 30 day fully functional trial that may help.
posted by paulsc at 2:58 PM on November 2, 2005

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