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Old 07-26-2006, 08:02 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Research Project, need advice


For starters, I'm new to this forum. I'm a senior in high school, and I'm applying to a Siemen's / Westinghouse Competition, a research project type of thing (link is here .) My team is planning on doing a research project based on Windows.

We are basing our research project on the fact that on systems with Windows installed, whenever less than half the space on the system is remaining, the computer has a sudden decrease in performance. We've noticed that this happens only on Windows system, and have tried on Linux and Mac systems as well. I'm hoping that someone much more knowledgeable in file systems and windows can be of some help in giving a personal "testimony" or anything at all. All we need is a quick proverbial point in the right direction.

Also, is there a contact email in microsoft i should be asking?

Thanks very much in advance!

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Old 07-26-2006, 08:33 PM   #2 (permalink)
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The system performance is going to decrease when you hook the computer up to the Internet, since you need to install the basics: anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall. And having those running will make any system sluggish.

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Old 07-26-2006, 08:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Originally posted by talldude123
The system performance is going to decrease when you hook the computer up to the Internet, since you need to install the basics: anti-virus, anti-spyware, and firewall. And having those running will make any system sluggish.
Thanks for the reply However, I'm looking for something specific to the 50%-filled-space sudden performance decrease.

Thanks again!
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Old 07-26-2006, 08:43 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Some reasons for a slow down:

1) As the hard drive fills, which I assume with installed programs, the registry fills up as well. This means that Windows has to sort through more stuff anytime you want to do a task. If you right-click a file, and you get options in the drop down menu that were not there when you installed Windows, you can see a small sampling of what goes in the registry. The registry is Windows database for any kind of setting or option.

2) NTFS is lazy. If a hard drive is rushed because it gets multiple requests all at once, it will spit out whatever it has in it's cache wherever it can find room in the hard drive. This results in fragmentation. Let's say Windows requests a file that had previously been 'spit out', it may have to look in a few different spots on the HDD to find it. This can take more time. As a HDD gets more full, there is less room available for Windows to do a proper defrag on the HDD.

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Old 07-26-2006, 08:51 PM   #5 (permalink)
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alot of it has to do with the way the file allocation table works, as well as what you are using. fat32, ntfs, fat16, etc. reason being is that as more and more data is writen to the hard drive, it usually is not writen in a contiguous way. so what you have is a part of a program on one part of the drive and it spans thoughout the drive. a defrag solves some of this problem, but not all of it as when the volume of the drive decreases, defragmenting is less effective. so now you have alot of whats called drive thrashing, hunting down the data for said program. The reason the os doesn't get lost doing this is because the os/drive contains what is essentially like a table of contents, very indepth on the location of everything. however, the more the drive heads have to search the longer it takes to access that info. so less room, means more thrashing of the drive and longer access times.

easiest way I can explain a fat table is like this. imagine fat16 as an array of large blocks. data is writen in the blocks, but a program will not share said blocks with another one, so once that program (actual a file from said program) is writen, what ever room is left in said cluster is lost. so the fact that fat16 has large cluster sizes adds up to wasted disk space. fat32 solved this with a smaller foot print, and less wasted disk space also allowing for larger drives. hope this answers some of your questions.
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