A while ago, I nearly filled my hard drive, much more than the recommended maximum of 85% of capacity. I believe that NTFS started storing files in the space reserved for the Master File Table (MFT) and the MFT had to fragment elsewhere as it grew.
I have cleared off space on the hard drive, but the MFT apparently remains fragmented, and there's a lot of slow disk access for even very simple operations like opening a folder or small file. This is killing performance. I remember that Windows standard disk defragmenter doesn't defragment the MFT because the MFT is in use when the operating system is running. I'm running Vista Ultimate and its defragment utility has very little in the way of reporting, less than older versions.
I suspect that a solution might involve booting up from an optical disc with a basic OS ("Live CD") and running a defragment utility from that. Can anybody tell me what program to use, or how to defragment my MFT?