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Take Control of Your Hard Disk Space
Nowadays, managing files and folders on PCs seems to be an important task for network administrators and data storage managers due to large capacity hard disks and millions of files and folders.
This article will help you in two ways
1. Understand disk space allocation and wastage.
2. Understand how to manage your disk space.
- 1. What is File Allocation Table (FAT)?
- 2. Disk efficiency and FAT.
- 3. What is wasted space. ?
- 4. Solution.
What is a file allocation table?
FAT is a roadmap, or index, that indicates where all information in files is stored on a floppy disk or hard drive. FAT is very important because the system uses it to store and retrieve files containing information.
When you save a file in Windows, it is stored on disk in multiple chunks (clusters made up of multiple sectors). Windows also saves a roadmap, or index, that shows these clusters in two copies of the FAT (File Allocation Table). FAT contains instructions on all the pieces of your files, so that applications can find them later.
Disk efficiency and FAT.
Every file in your system is stored in clusters on your hard drive, a maximum of one file can be stored in a particular cluster, so this file is wasted if it is under the cluster size. The current FAT version (FAT16) organizes files in 32K clusters on drives larger than 1.2gig, while FAT32 will use a minimum cluster size of 4K. This means that a 3K file only wastes 1K of disk space in FAT32, while it wastes 29K of space in a standard FAT system. This waste can waste more than 50% of a 2gig drive. See the table below.
What is a cluster and why is cluster size important?
The whole problem of wasted space stems from the fact that DOS allocates file space in “clusters”. Clusters are numbered sequentially on disk, starting with 0, and cluster numbers are used in both the FAT (File Allocation Table) and the individual directory entry for each file.
Allocating by clusters means some disk space will be wasted. Regardless of the actual length of the file reported by the DIR command, the file actually occupies the full number of clusters on disk. So a 1-byte file will actually use the entire cluster, a file that is 1 cluster plus 1 byte long will use 2 clusters, and so on.
Is it serious? This can happen, depending on the file size format on your disk. For example, if you have a 2GB disk with 5,000 files, about 100 MB of your disk is being wasted. And depending on your usage patterns, the statistics can be much worse. One user reported that copying 450 MB files to a 1.6 GB disk took 600 MB! As your disk fills up, you can squeeze some extra space out of it instead of buying a new disk.
How does cluster size depend on hard disk size?
Cluster size for different partition sizes as mentioned above in the table so that you can make a wise choice about how to partition your hard disk.
From the table above we see that the 2.1 GB drive is also above the 1023 kilo-byte limit for 16 KB clusters and therefore its cluster size (unpartitioned) is 32 KB. With a 32 KB cluster, even a 1-byte file will use 32 KB of disk space. A file that is between 32,769 and 65,536 bytes in length uses two clusters (64 KB) for larger file sizes, and so on.
Still, you might be inclined to think it’s no big deal. But think about it: if you have a 2.1 GB drive with 5,000 files, you’re probably wasting about 160 MB.
How are cluster sizes determined?
Clusters are always some power of 2 times 512 bytes, but which power of 2 depends on disk size. Why does it have to be? I mentioned above that the clusters are numbered sequentially. The problem is that the directory structure and FAT only have room for 16 bits for the cluster number. Since the largest unsigned number that can fit into a 16-bit field is 2^16-1 = 65535, the disk can hold at most 2^16 = 65536 clusters. This gives the formula
Cluster size = ———, rounded up to a power of 2
Usually the wasted space per file will be half the cluster.
What is wasted space?
Whenever a file is created, space will be allocated to the file as a cluster. A cluster can be 8 KB, 16 KB or 32 KB depending on your hard disk partition size. Following is a chart for cluster size.
Partition Size Cluster Size Partition Size Cluster Size
128 – 256 MB
1 – 8 GB
257 – 512 MB
8 – 16 GB
513 – 1024 MB
16 – 32 GB
1025 – 2048 MB
> 32 GB
So the formula for wasted space is Wasted Space = Allocated Space – Actual File Size.
We will take an example of a file which is 900 bytes in size and your partition type is – FAT and its size is 1024 MB. So the space allocated for your file will be 16384 bytes or 16 KB, you store 900 bytes or 1 byte in the file. So in this case there will be wasted space
Wasted space = 16384 – 900 = 15484 bytes.
So the conclusion is this: less file size, more wasted space.
So to analyze how our disk space is being wasted we need a smart program that will show us the space hogging files and their locations.
We have been working with file system software for the past 2 years. We have developed a powerful disk space analysis and cleaning software – DiskAnalyzer Professional 1.5 that allows you to control your disk space and reclaim gigabytes of lost disk space.
You can visit our website to get more information about the software http://www.craveworldwide.com
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