I’m always looking for ways to tweak my computers, specifically my laptop. I recently came across a section of the Windows Vista Annoyances book that detailed how you can increase hard drive performance by tweaking the NTFS file system settings in the registry. I have created a series of screen shots along with explanations to walk you through the process and so that you too could tweak Windows Vista a bit more.
What’s NTFS? NT File System is the standard file system used by the operating system on your computer, specifically Windows 2000, XP, Server 2003, Server 2008, Vista, and 7. For more information follow this link.
The registry keys we will be modifying in this tutorial
WARNING – Please backup your registry before proceeding with this tutorial.
Note: I used Windows Vista Ultimate for this Guide
1. Click on the Orb (Windows Logo) and type regedit into the search box. When regedit appears in the search results click on it to open the Registry Editor.
2. Navigate to HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE > SYSTEM > CurrentControlSet > Control > FileSystem
3. Locate the keys highlighted above. These are the keys you will be modifying in this tutorial.
Note: If the keys are not listed make sure that you are in the correct directory by verifying the location on Step 2 above. If the keys are still missing create the keys yourself by right-clicking in the white space and choosing New>DWORD (32-bit) Value. When prompted enter the information as described in the sections below for the missing keys.
4. Double-click the first key NtfsDisable8dot3NameCreation. When the dialog box opens set the Value data to 1, click OK to continue.
5. Double-click the first keyNtfsDisableLastAccessUpdate. When the dialog box opens set the Value data to 1, click OK to continue.
Before continuing to the next key, lets determine what the MFT size and allocation currently is on your computer. In order to do that we are going to access the command prompt to run the Disk Defragmenter program. Follow the steps below.
Open the Command Prompt (for instructions click here). Once opened, type the following command exactly as it appears;
defrag.exe -a -v c:
Press enter when you have entered the command above. Depending on your computer this could take seconds or several minutes, be patient.
Note: This command generates a status report about your drive’s fragmentation level. Among the data listed you will find the percentage of MFT use.
When the process is complete you will see the message below. Take note of the Percent MFT in use at the end of the report. (In this example it is 60%)
Proceed to Step 6
6. Now that you know the percentage of the MFT usage you can double-click on theNtfsMftZoneReservation key. When the dialog box opens set the Value data to the recommended setting, click OK to continue.
Note: In this example I set it to 2 from 1 because the MFT was creeping towards the 100% mark.
7. Restart your computer for changes to take effect.