Microsoft

Improve Windows XP Pro's NTFS performance by disabling the Accessed timestamp

If you have an application, such as a search tool, that frequently accesses many files for a simple read operation, the operation required to update each file’s Accessed timestamp can drain your system's performance. Fortunately, you can use disable the Accessed timestamp using the FSUtil command. Here’s how.

The New Technology File System (NTFS) is essentially a huge database that keeps track of all the files on your Windows XP Pro hard disk. When you create a file, or edit and then resave that file, the NTFS creates an entry and records the date in the Created or Modified timestamp so you can access the Properties sheet of the file and check the Created or Modified entries later.

NTFS also creates and keeps track of another timestamp called Accessed. The timestamp lists the date on which the file was last accessed and whether the file was opened and read or changed and saved. Each time NTFS updates a file's Properties sheet, an accompanying disk read/write operation occurs. Since the Accessed timestamp does not add much useful information, you may consider the read/write operation incurred to record it wasteful.

If you have an application, such as a search tool, that frequently accesses many files for a simple read operation, the operation required to update each file's Accessed timestamp can drain your system's performance. Fortunately, you can use disable the Accessed timestamp using the FSUtil command. Here's how:

  1. Open a Command Prompt window.
  2. Type the following command line:

FSUTIL behavior set disablelastaccess 1

If you wish to turn the Accessed attribute back on, simply repeat the command and replace 1 with 0.

Note: This tip applies only to Windows XP Professional.

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About

Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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