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NTFS Cluster size

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 »  Home  »  System Performance Page 1  »  NTFS Cluster size
NTFS Cluster size
By  Super Admin  | Published  02/24/2005 | System Performance Page 1 | Unrated
NTFS Cluster size

If you create file lets say 1 byte in size, at least one cluster should be allocated on FAT file system. On NTFS if file is small enough, it can be stored in MFT record itself without using additional clusters. When file grows beyond the cluster boundary, another cluster is allocated. It means that the bigger the cluster size, the more disk space is wasted, however, the performance is better.

So if you have a large hard drive & dont mind wasteing some space, format it with a larger cluster size to gain added performance.

The following table shows the default values that Windows NT/2000/XP uses for NTFS formatting:

      Drive size                  
   (logical volume)             Cluster size          Sectors
     512 MB or less               512 bytes           1
     513 MB - 1,024 MB (1 GB)   1,024 bytes (1 KB)    2
   1,025 MB - 2,048 MB (2 GB)   2,048 bytes (2 KB)    4
   2,049 MB and larger          4,096 bytes (4 KB)    8
However, when you format the partition manually, you can specify cluster size 512 bytes, 1 KB, 2 KB, 4 KB, 8 KB, 16 KB, 32 KB, 64 KB in the format dialog box or as a parameter to the command line FORMAT utility.

The performance comes thew the bursts from the hard drive. by having a larger cluster size you affectivly have a larger chunk of data sent to ram rather than having to read multiple smaller chunks of the same data.


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  • Comment #1 (Posted by an unknown user)
    Was good, but did not explain about sectors.
  • Comment #2 (Posted by an unknown user)
    This article is a smaller copy of what you can find here:
  • Comment #3 (Posted by an unknown user)
    Instead of messing with the cluster size, stay with default 4 kb and defragment regularly. This way you get both the advantage of the speed increase of using a smaller cluster size as well as the speed increase you'd get reading fragmented larger clusters.
  • Comment #4 (Posted by an unknown user)
    Not sure, but I had problems on Win 2k trying to defragment disk. It is not work unless default cluster size is specified.
  • Comment #5 (Posted by an unknown user)
    All I wanted to know on one page
  • Comment #6 (Posted by an unknown user)
    The performance gained by a larger cluster size will generally be very small. And be warned that some important NTFS features do not work with cluster sizes larger than the default of 4KB. The large majority of users will be best served with the default size. You will need far more information than the author has provided to make an intelligent decision. Larry Miller, Microsoft MCSA
  • Comment #7 (Posted by an unknown user)
    wanted to format a USB hard drive, got asked this question about allocation size - your page had it. more explaination on pros and cons of bigger sizes might have been a way to be better.
  • Comment #8 (Posted by an unknown user)
    all the basic info is there.
  • Comment #9 (Posted by an unknown user)
    not enought info, sorry.
  • Comment #10 (Posted by an unknown user)
    Terrible spelling, not enough information.
  • Comment #11 (Posted by an unknown user)
    I enjoyed the way this article just gradually fell to pieces.
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