I have been reading and working on the following error message for the last few days.

Bootcamp Partition Error: "Files cannot be moved"

This has occurred (I am guessing) from removing the bootcamp partition badly while I was doing cleaning and backing up before my upgrade to Snow Leopard.

Now I am tired

  • Did File Optimizations (Volume not possible on startup disks)
  • Did Disk Permissions Repairs (fixed some changes)
  • Pram-ed it
  • Fsck-ed it
  • Reinstalled Snow Leopard
  • Tried partitioning from Disk Utility
  • Erased free space
  • Deleted any mention of the old boot camp partition

My setup was a Boot camp partition used through VMware , but I barely did boots from XP. Most of the times I just needed a program that could be used through VMWare.

I know there are some programs that will not install/start via a virtual machine.

So my question,

What am I missing out (cons) on by not fixing this partitioning problem ? Since Mac defrags the small files ... in time will the free space be put back together in one chunk eventually ?

  • Not really an answer to your question, but the problem could be fixed with Darik's Boot and Nuke (www.dban.org). This is not elegant though, and will take some time - and erase everything on your HD. You could also possibly delete the unwanted partitions with GParted from a Linux Live CD – trolle3000 Jul 30 '10 at 13:13

Read this thread : Bootcamp Partition Error: "Files cannot be moved".

The thread is quite long (so you might start from the end). I quote the last entry:

This happened to me before, and I managed to fix it.
I booted from my Snow Leopard disk and ran disk utility and verified and repaired the disk AND the disk permissions.

Other advice is:

  1. Reinstall OS - Boot Camp's recommended solution. Very time consuming.
  2. Defragment - Requires purchasing iDefrag for $30. Defragment your internal (boot. drive and try Boot Camp again.
  3. Clone & restore - Requires free SuperDuper. Backup your internal drive to another drive, erase the internal drive, then restore the backup to the internal drive. This is essentially another way to defragment.
  4. Manual partition resize - Boot from an OSX DVD, run Disk Utility from there, shrink the OSX partition on your internal drive, then create a new FAT partition in the free space, then format the FAT partition to NTFS when installing Windows.
  5. Apple Tech support's solution - Startup machine with Command + S. Run /sbin/fsck -fy. Repeat process. Reboot and run Boot Camp.
  6. Clean startup - Reboot your machine. Run Boot Camp before running anything else.
  7. Move large files - Moving large files (videos, Parallels VMs, etc.. to an external drive allows Boot Camp to proceed for some.
  8. Disk Utility - Run Disk Utility and perform zero free space, repair permissions, and repair disk. Some of these may not be necessary (zero free space probably makes no difference. - but it doesn't hurt to do all three. NOTE: You should probably boot from an OSX install DVD so Disk Utility has full access to the internal boot drive. If you don't have the DVD, you can boot from a cloned drive you previously made by holding down Option at machine startup. See 3. above for how to clone your drive.


Since you ask about how does Mac automated defrag work, here is a description:

To clarify, there are 2 separate file optimizations going on here.

The first is automatic file defragmentation. When a file is opened, if it is highly fragmented (8+ fragments) and under 20MB in size, it is defragmented. This works by just moving the file to a new, arbitrary, location. This only happens on Journaled HFS+ volumes.

The second is the "Adaptive Hot File Clustering". Over a period of days, the OS keeps track of files that are read frequently - these are files under 10MB, and which are never written to. At the end of each tracking cycle, the "hottest" files (the files that have been read the most times) are moved to a "hotband" on the disk - this is a part of the disk which is particularly fast given the physical disk characteristics (currently sized at 5MB per GB). "Cold" files are evicted to make room. As a side effect of being moved into the hotband, files are defragmented. Currently, AHFC only works on the boot volume, and only for Journaled HFS+ volumes over 10GB.

So unless Journalling is on by default in Panther Client install, neither of these optimisations will run.

It seems that if Journalling is on, OS X does scatter the files around the disk in the name of optimization. This might explain some of your problems. It might be that defragmentation will negate this effect, or it might be that reinstalling without Journalling is the solution.

  • @harrymc thanks for the info but I was really looking for reasons/pros for not going through the above tedious steps or someone who knows how the mac automated defrag works – phwd Aug 9 '10 at 20:36

I had the same problem while installing Bootcamp Windows 7 on my iMac. I solved it by connecting my iMac to my MacBook trough a firewire cable. When you reboot the iMac, hold the T key on the keyboard. The iMac will boot in Target mode, and the MacBook will recognize it as an external FireWire disk.

Run iDefrag on the MacBook and defragment the drive. Now, you can partition the disk and install bootcamp.

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