Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Tips for making files contiguous on your E2B drive

Unless your E2B USB drive has become almost full at one stage in it's life after formatting it, the \MAKE_THIS_DRIVE_CONTIGUOUS.cmd script should run WinContig fairly quickly and without any problems. Obviously, having a fast USB 3.0 E2B drive helps though!

Here are a few tips:

  1. Never download from the internet directly onto your E2B USB drive. This can cause the file to be heavily fragmented (even if you have lots of contiguous free space on it). You will find it best to always download files onto one of your internal drives first and then copy the file to your E2B USB drive. That way you also have a backup too!
  2. Do not use 'special' fast-copy programs like robocopy or TeraCopy, etc. to copy files to your E2B USB drive. These often open multiple threads which results in fragmented files. This just means WinContig will then have to defragment them on the USB drive and so it just takes much longer overall!
  3. Only start one copy session at a time. You can select multiple files and then drag-and-drop them onto the E2B drive, but don't start another copy session until the first one has finished. Not only can this cause file fragmentation, but it often takes longer too when copying to a USB drive.
  4. You can only defragment a file if there is enough free space on the USB drive to hold a second copy of it. A 6GB file will require at least 6GB of free space (in a single chunk).
  5. If your E2B USB drive has become nearly full at one stage and WinContig is not able to defragment a large file even though there is enough free space for the defragmented file, try using Defraggler - Action - Advanced - Defrag Freespace. This will consolidate the free clusters into one nice run. However, you should first delete any large fragmented files before you run it. This action can also fragment some files that were previously unfragmented, so the next run of WinContig will need to defragment them again. Then try adding your large file(s) again and finally run WinContig again. Defraggler will also show you a nice map of the used clusters and fragmented files (Analyze).
  6. If using an 8GB NTFS E2B drive, it may not be able to hold a contiguous 4GB+ file. This is because the directory table ($MFT) will be at the 3GB position on the drive and so a 4GB+ file may have to be split if other files are also present. See here for more details and a way to work around this issue (or you could just buy a bigger USB drive!).
  7. Finally, don't buy USB 2.0 drives. A USB 3.0/3.1 drive should always be faster, even on a 2.0 USB port and they are backwards compatible. I highly recommend the SanDisk Extreme USB 3.0 range.
If you have any other tips, leave a comment below.

P.S. As chi zhang says in the comments below, if you have a nearly full USB drive which is quite slow, it is often faster to just remake the USB drive again - then all the files will be contiguous because the drive will be reformatted. See here for more details.