Essay: Fragmentation Issue in FAT File System

Essay: Fragmentation Issue in FAT File System
April 11, 2011 Comments Off on Essay: Fragmentation Issue in FAT File System Academic Papers on Information Technology,Sample Academic Papers admin

Sample Essay

The FAT file system, including FAT32, allocates the space on the disk on the basis of clusters and not sectors. As the files are moved or deleted from their location, gaps occur between the clusters which hold data for existing files resulting in fragmentation. Fragmentation is the inherent property of the FAT file system which allows the data in the file to be stored anywhere on the disk, that is, it does not have to be in contiguous blocks. This introduces performance degradation as the file, now, has to be read from multiple places. Disk drives themselves are relatively slow devices, due to their nature, which means that it takes the time to move the heads of the disk to the right place to begin reading.   In order to overcome this performance degradation, a process called defragmentation is used. Defragmentation moves all the data related to each file, to a contiguous series of clusters, which allows for the reading of files without much head movement and thereby increasing performance (Kozierok).

Partition and Partition Sizes

Partitioning is the process of logically dividing the hard disk into pieces called volumes. A partition is an important disk structure which defines how the disk is organized. Any new hard disk required partitioning before it can be put to use. The FAT32 file system can have a file allocation table that can access the clusters using a 28-bit cluster number. This allows it to address up to 268 million clusters which translate into drive size of up to 2TB. Despite, this huge achievement, the practicality of accessing a 2TB partition using FAT32 tells another story.  Despite having a significantly large cluster size, 32 KB than its predecessors, the file allocation table can grow up to 256MB. The fact that FAT is the central structure which is accessed numerous times during the normal use of this disk, compound this problem and result is significantly reduced system performance. This has made the FAT32 file system being touted as a temporary solution and more and more people and industries are moving toward more efficient file systems such as NTFS for their needs (Kozierok).

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