You may be high / You may be low

4 October 2008

The Windows installation on my computer is currently spending many hours to accomplish something that should take less than a minute.

Most computer storage systems have a sort of thing that some of us know as directory and others know as folder. People speak and tend to think of files as being in these things, but actually files are only in these things in much the same sense as a persons are in a phone book. Hence, directory is at least the less misleading term (paper files being in paper folders more as people are in buildings). Directories are usually themselves implemented as files, which then makes it trivial to put directories in other directories.

Logical disk C on my computer entirely resides on one physical hard drive. I have a directory on C such that I'd like to move it from one parent directory on C to another on C. What that literally means is that I would like to add a listing for it to another directory, remove a listing from the earlier parent, and change what the moved directory lists as its parent. I don't want to relocate the files that it contains to another part of the logical drive; I certainly don't want to relocate them to another physical drive. I don't even want to relocate the directory in question. I just want to change which parent directory lists the directory in question (and what it lists as its parent directory). So I did a cut-and-paste from one folder to another, something on the order of twelve hours ago. The move is still in-process; the progress bar indicates that it is less than half done. The disk drive is in a state of near-continuous activity, and the dialogue box is listing the subcontents of the directory one-by-one.

(Sadder still, this move is in preparation for moving the files in question to a different physical device, which will take considerable time no matter which operating system is used.)

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3 Responses to You may be high / You may be low

  • Gaal says:

    Don't trust the Windows Explorer for complex operations. (Don't trust it to treat as simple anything that isn't completely trivial.) It's better to do these things on the command line; certainly when you actually copy things across volumes you should use XCOPY and one of the flags that has it continue after errors have occurred (but log the errors!).

    • Daniel says:

      Yeah, I'm (still!) getting an ugly illustration of the untrustworthiness of Explorer here. Unfortunately, I think that, by the time that it became clear that the dreadful process would drag-on for hours, my safest option was to let it play itself out.

      I'm wondering now about whether NTFS-3G (which I've been using for quite a while) is sufficiently strong that I can use linux to effect the cross-media transfer as well (or very nearly as well) as I could XCOPY.

  • BigTigerMonke says:

    "...ut actually files are only "in" these things in much the same sense as a persons are "in" a phone book"

    Technically, even Jimmy Hoffa is in the phone book -- buried somewhere between Hamburgers and Hulla-hoops.

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