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Assuming that there is ample free space on the device, and it isn't fragmented.

I'm interested in answers for various operating and file systems.

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Would it be important since usually fragmentation centers on the file-level, not directory level? It would also probably depend on the implementation of write caching at the OS level and the hardware caching, along with RAID implementation, I would think. –  Bart Silverstrim Nov 3 '10 at 13:57
Plus you have OS's like OS X that supposedly defrags smaller files in spare time in the background. In the end the physical layout of the filesystem is for the most part abstracted away at various points even from the OS to a degree. –  Bart Silverstrim Nov 3 '10 at 13:58
Good answer Bart! ++1 –  chickeninabiscuit Nov 3 '10 at 14:02
Tiny files wouldn't get as fragmented, since they're tiny, depending on your definition of tiny and the size of your blocks (which depends on your filesystem and the hardware, and again, your hardware's logic implementation at the "black box level") If you're doing the operation all at once, even if you have interleaved a lot of small files from 2 directories interleaved, they'd still be clustered somewhat close together on the platters in theory. Again, RAID would blow this away, and there's no telling what caching would do anyway. –  Bart Silverstrim Nov 3 '10 at 14:21
There are so many variables involved in answering this, even generically, that I don't feel like writing an Encyclopedia article today. –  sysadmin1138 Nov 3 '10 at 15:24

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