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I am using Windows 7 and my hard drive has four partitions. One of the partition, F, contains all my source code of projects. Over time, this partition has become fragmented and slow. This partition is FAT-32 whereas other three partitions are NTFS.

When I open any IDE and load the projects located in this partition (F), I feel it loads slow since Windows indexing is not available on FAT-32 partitions.

I want to know whether to converting this partition to NTFS will speed up file loads or not. If yes, how to convert this partition to NTFS while keeping the data intact?

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up vote 3 down vote accepted

I do not know if the slowness is due to fragmentation, or not. How full is the drive? If it is full, it may be slower, and despite Window's scheduled tasks, you can defragment manually.

I would definitely convert it to NTFS, which is more stable, and has better access control. You can do it with this command, and while you should not lose data (I have never seen this fail in 17 years), you should always have a backup anyway.

convert x: /fs:ntfs (X being the letter of your FAT32 volume)

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It is a 30 GB partition and 10 GB is free. Is there a way to take an image of the partition? – RPK Jul 12 '11 at 16:35
You can use either Easeus' free partion managing software or Clonezilla. – KCotreau Jul 12 '11 at 16:43

Windows 7 should still automatically keep the volume defragmented. I suspect your problem is that 1) Visual Studio is just slow sometimes, and 2) the partition is located at the end of the drive, which can hurt seek times and transfer rates.

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+1 for knowing about ends of drives being notably slower than starts. – Doc Jul 12 '11 at 16:24
Thanks Joel. But does FAT32 and NTFS also matter for speed? – RPK Jul 12 '11 at 16:26
@rohit: For source files, no. There is no speed difference. Have you measured the load time? There are many factors that factor into loading speed, besides file system format. Usage pattern, running programs, the HD itself. . . – surfasb Jul 12 '11 at 18:03

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