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As explained in 2, one of the mandates for Windows was to fully support the POSIX 1003.1 standard. In the file system area, the POSIX standard requires support for casesensitive file and directory names, traversal permissions (where security for each directory of a path is used when determining whether a user has access to a file or directory), a filechange-time time stamp (which is different from the MS-DOS time-last-modified stamp), and hard links. NTFS implements each of these features.
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Even though NTFS makes efforts to keep files contiguous, a volume s files can still become fragmented over time, especially when there is limited free space. A file is fragmented if its data occupies discontiguous clusters. For example, Figure 11-19 shows a fragmented file consisting of five fragments. However, like most file systems (including versions of FAT on Windows), NTFS makes no special efforts to keep files contiguous, other than to reserve a region of disk space known as the master file table (MFT) zone for the MFT. (NTFS lets other files allocate from the MFT zone when volume free space runs low.) Keeping an area free for the MFT can help it stay contiguous, but it, too, can become fragmented. (See the section Master File Table later in this chapter for more information on MFTs.)
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To facilitate the development of third-party disk defragmentation tools, Windows includes a defragmentation API that such tools can use to move file data so that files occupy contiguous clusters. The API consists of file system controls that let applications obtain a map of a volume s free and in-use clusters (FSCTL_GET_VOLUME_BITMAP), obtain a map of a file s cluster usage (FSCTL_GET_RETRIEVAL_POINTERS), and move a file (FSCTL_MOVE_FILE). Windows includes a built-in defragmentation tool that is accessible by using the Disk Defragmenter utility (\%SystemRoot%\System32\Dfrgui.exe), shown in Figure 11-20, as well as a command-line interface, \%SystemRoot%\System32\Defrag.exe, that you can run interactively or
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schedule but that does not produce detailed reports or offer control such as excluding files or directories over the defragmentation process.
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The only limitation imposed by the defragmentation implementation in NTFS is that paging files and NTFS log files cannot be defragmented.
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The NTFS driver allows users to dynamically resize any partition, including the system partition, either shrinking or expanding it (if enough space is available). Expanding a partition is easy if enough space exists on the disk and is performed through the FSCTL_EXPAND_VOLUME file system control code. Shrinking a partition is a more complicated process, because it requires moving any file system data that is currently in the area to be thrown away to the region that will still remain after the shrinking process (a mechanism similar to defragmentation). Shrinking is implemented by two components: the shrinking engine and the file system driver. The shrinking engine is implemented in user mode. It communicates with NTFS to determine the maximum number of reclaimable bytes that is, how much data can be moved from the region that will be resized into the region that will remain. The shrinking engine uses the standard defragmentation mechanism shown earlier, which doesn t support relocating page file fragments that are in use or any other files that have been marked as unmovable with the FSCTL_MARK_HANDLE file system control code (like the hibernation file). The master file table backup and other NTFS metadata files (described later), including the change journal, also cannot be moved, which limits the minimum size of the shrunk volume and causes wasted space. The file system driver shrinking code is responsible for ensuring that the volume remains in a consistent state throughout the shrinking process. To do so, it exposes an interface that uses three requests that describe the current operation, which are sent through the FSCTL_SHRINK_ VOLUME control code: The ShrinkPrepare request, which must be issued before any other operation. This request takes the desired size of the new volume in sectors and is used so that the file system can block further allocations outside the new volume boundary. The prepare request doesn t verify whether the volume can actually be shrunk by the specified amount, but it does make sure that the amount is numerically valid and that there aren t any other shrinking operations ongoing. Note that after a
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prepare operation, the file handle to the volume becomes associated with the shrink request. If the file handle is closed, the operation is assumed to be aborted. The ShrinkCommit request, which the shrinking engine issues after a ShrinkPrepare request. In this state, the file system attempts the removal of the requested number of clusters in the most recent prepare request. (If multiple prepare requests have been sent with different sizes, the last one is the determining one.) The ShrinkCommit request assumes that the shrinking engine has completed and will fail if any allocated blocks remain in the area to be shrunk. The ShrinkAbort request, which can be issued by the shrinking engine or caused by events such as the closure of the file handle to the volume. This request undoes the commit operation by returning the partition to its original size and allows new allocations outside the shrunk region to occur again. However, defragmentation changes made by the shrinking engine remain. If a system is rebooted during a shrinking operation, NTFS restores the file system to a consistent state via its metadata recovery mechanism, explained later in the chapter. Because the actual shrink operation isn t executed until all other operations have been completed, the volume retains its original size and only defragmentation operations that had already been flushed out to disk persist. Finally, shrinking a volume has several effects on the volume shadow copy mechanism (for more information on VSS, see 8). Recall that the copy-on-write mechanism allows VSS to simply retain parts of the file that were actually modified while still linking to the original file data. For deleted files, this file data will not be associated with visible files but appear as free space instead free space that will likely be located in the area that is about to be shrunk. The shrinking engine therefore communicates with VSS to engage it in the shrinking process. In summary, the VSS mechanism s job is to copy deleted file data into its differencing area and to increase the differencing area as required to accommodate additional data. This detail is important because it poses another constraint on the size to which even volumes with ample free space can shrink.
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